Covid-19 Economic Support Package

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:23 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Conservative, Thirsk and Malton 2:23 pm, 14th October 2020

I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I am one of the 5.7 million business people in this country for whom this is not a theoretical concept but an existential crisis. I listened carefully to the shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, when she talked about business confidence. I agree with much of what she says, although probably not that much in this debate.

One thing that really damages business confidence is when you flip-flop. To say on Monday that you are willing to support a local lockdown strategy and then to say today that it has to be a national lockdown is totally wrong. That damages business confidence, and it damages consumer confidence. One thing that has bolstered business confidence has been the unprecedented levels of support we have seen from the Treasury and the Government. This is the third recession I have been through in our business, including in the years following 2008, and I have never seen support like this.

We need to be honest with people when we talk about a national lockdown and a circuit breaker. Are we talking about just one circuit breaker, one hit? The reality is that the SAGE advice says we might need multiple lockdowns, multiple circuit breakers, to keep the virus at low levels. Imagine the devastating impact on businesses and consumer confidence. The shadow Chancellor has to be honest with the business community. She needs to say that this might mean—[Interruption.] I did not hear it in her speech. She needs to say that this might mean multiple lockdowns, multiple hits and multiple costs to the taxpayer, and a devastating impact on businesses. A circuit breaker will buy 28 days. It will put us back in the same place in 28 days’ time—that is what it says. Please be honest with the people. What I would like to hear from the Opposition are some ideas on how we keep the economy open. I have not heard anything from them about how we tackle this public health crisis while keeping the economy open. I have not heard that.

If we cannot look to the Opposition, we should look to best practice internationally. There is no European country I am aware of that has gone back to a national lockdown. The leader in managing this crisis is Germany, which uses not just a local lockdown policy but a sub-local lockdown policy. It closed down Gütersloh and Warendorf, with 300,000 people per district. That is what we should look at. We should stop looking at wide regional lockdowns and look at sub-local lockdowns. The hon. Lady is looking at a national lockdown, which is the antithesis of what we are talking about.