Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:26 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Danny Kruger Danny Kruger Conservative, Devizes 5:26 pm, 13th October 2020

I start by paying tribute to the Ministers for the work they have been doing. I recognise that they are in an incredibly difficult time and doing their best, so I pay tribute to them personally. They are trying to strike a balance between clarity and giving, as my right hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh has said, a consistent message to the public, and trying to achieve flexibility in recognising that the infection works in different ways in different places. They need to strike a balance between the national and the local, which is not easy, and I recognise the challenge in striking that balance.

I do not want to talk about the risk to the economy that we face, because other hon. Members have made that point very powerfully. I simply want to raise the tragedy that this pandemic represents for our communities. The tragedy is that, as a virus, it works through human relationships, through families and households, through communities and the gathering places of our neighbourhoods —the pubs, churches and sports fields, the institutions that give our lives not only pleasure but identity and meaning. I know that the Government share that sense of tragedy and want us out of this situation as soon as possible.

I accept the advice the Government are getting on the transmission and the value of all the different lockdown measures. I simply want to make an appeal for a response to the virus that is less about big business and big government. I accept why big business and big government —Deloitte and Public Health England—were called in at the outset, but surely we can say that we have tested that approach sufficiently to suggest that there might be a better way to deal with this, a response that is less about big government and big business, and more about local communities and trusting the people and the professionals in our local places.

I know that the Government share a belief in the important of civil society, local government and trusting public health professionals locally. I hope that, as we move through this terrible winter, we can adopt a different model, relying less on the undoubted intelligence, goodwill and good intentions of people in this postcode and more on the people in the places we represent.