I will start by disagreeing with Conor McGinn, because another lockdown would be the wrong thing to do. I rise to speak to statutory instruments 1103, 1104 and 1105, on the tiered approach, and to SI 1029, although I believe it has now been superseded by the tiered approach. Although I rise to speak about those items, I do not support them. I am a friend of the Government, and sometimes the best thing a friend can do is be a critical friend. I hope that the Government will take my comments in that light, seeing them as critical but constructive.
Although I welcome the premise of a three-tiered approach, in simplifying what was a patchwork of restrictions across the country, I am unfortunately unable to support it in its current format. While the 10 pm curfew is involved, I see this doing nothing but harm to a sector that has done everything asked of it by the Government. Obviously, we have limited the number of clients these businesses can have and now we have limited the number of hours they can open for, which is causing them real harm, not only in my constituency but across the north and the country. SAGE has said that the curfew was likely to have only a marginal impact and looking at the data we see that that is evidently the case, with a small percentage of transmission taking place in this environment. As such, I urge Ministers to follow the science in this regard and remove the curfew as early as possible.
Although I appreciate what the Government are trying to achieve with the tiered system, it falls far short. We are very much doomed to going down the “Hotel California” approach whereby we are having restrictions imposed on us that we may never leave. Thresholds whereby we can go up or down a tier have not been made clear. My constituency is at the peak of tier 2 and so is at risk of being in tier 3 soon, but we have no idea where the threshold is to go into tier 3 or what we would need to meet to come back out of it should we go into it. Further support needs to go to tier 2—not only to businesses that are struggling already but in order to prevent a need to go into tier 3, which should ultimately be a last resort. Hopefully with earlier intervention we can mitigate the need for any further places to go into tier 3.
There needs to be far more support for those sectors that, under Government edict, are being closed, whether that be the events industry or the wedding industry, which are having severely limited numbers imposed upon them. It is the Government who are saying that they cannot operate; therefore, the Government should step forward and support them. I think the Government are going down the right avenue; I just do not think that they have got it quite right. That would be my constructive comment to the Government. I give them a C for the marking, but a “must try harder”.