Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 5:11 pm, 13th October 2020

It is a pleasure to follow Huw Merriman.

We hear from Minister after Minister the mantra that we should follow the science or the medical advice to tackle the spread of covid-19. It seems common sense, really. We now have the highest excess death rate in Europe, and the worst recession in the G7. That is not an act of God; it is because of serial incompetence by the Government. I do not want the Government to be in that place. Opposition Members sincerely do not want the Government to be in that place. We all have loved ones and constituents with families and caring responsibilities, and this is a matter of life and death.

Yet it was revealed today in the media that SAGE gave advice about a reset—a short period of time; it could have been over the school holidays—and that advice was not followed. Now we have more of the same—the whack-a-mole strategy that the Prime Minister referred to. The only problem is, certainly in parts of my constituency, that the mole hills are appearing rapidly by the day. One part of the constituency—Halton—is now in tier 3. We can have arguments about that, when we compare Halton with other places across the region. The other part of my constituency is in tier 2, just to complicate matters slightly when we communicate messages to residents.

Just an hour or an hour and a half ago, we saw the national figure for deaths—145 people have lost their life today. It is very serious in my constituency when we look at hospital admissions and people in ICU. It is a big issue and a big problem, which requires an approach based on evidence. That evidence states clearly and it has consistently been argued for six months, certainly by local leaders, that local authorities should be resourced up and down the land. The Government should link public health professionals with a national system to create an effective test, track and isolate system. That is the major problem here. The hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle is right that we need a vaccine and we are probably going to have to live with this virus for some time. We need effective systems in place.

Follow the evidence. Look at hospitality, look at the pub trade, look at restaurants. We have all seen the evidence presented by the Government—