Local Contact Tracing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:32 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Conservative, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine 5:32 pm, 14th October 2020

I know that in some early listings I appear as the hon. Member for Ipswich. I am not the hon. Member for Ipswich—I never could be!—but if he was here I am sure he would agree that the Opposition’s brass neck takes some beating, in a week when we have seen craven, callous political opportunism of the worst kind from Labour Members. First, they were anti-10 pm closures; then, they were for 10 pm closures. First, they were against the tiered system; then, they were for the tiered system. First, they were against a circuit-breaker approach; then, they were for a circuit-breaker approach. I hope that Labour Front Benchers have cleared their position with the Leader of the Opposition, because for all we know he will be on TV in half an hour announcing a different position from the one they have taken here today.

The Opposition’s tone in opening the debate was quite depressing. We could have spent these few hours talking about how we work together to address the issues with the test-and-trace system, but, no, all we heard was typical Labour public good, private bad. Labour might have a new leader, but it is the same old Labour.

As my hon. Friend the Minister said, the Government’s aim and objective is to save lives. We accept that there are issues with the test-and-trace system, which is why we are working with all stakeholders—public, private, not for profit and local and national organisations—to get this right. It is not either/or. It is not public or private. It is not local or national. We are working to create a system that uses the best of all worlds.

We are providing £300 million to help local authorities to set up local test-and-trace services. We are extending the partnership between NHS Test and Trace and local authorities to reach more people who test positive—[Interruption.] They say we are not, but we are: it is a fact. We are bringing together the efforts and data of local and national services so that we can spot local flare-ups and take measures to control them more easily.

NHS Test and Trace—the Opposition would not say this—is delivering results. We are testing more than any other comparable European country today, and that is something of which we should be very proud. Test and trace plays a crucial role in our fight against coronavirus. It is not a question of national or local, but rather both working together to control and suppress the spread of this virus, and I really hope that the Labour party drops its recent approach and moves back to where it was in March, working constructively with the Government so that we can defeat this virus and save lives.