Covid-19

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:44 pm on 22nd October 2020.

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Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 2:44 pm, 22nd October 2020

That is not a U-turn. Thanking the staff is not a U-turn. The Opposition are on the side of the workers; the Secretary of State is on the side of the bosses. Of course we are happy to thank the staff who are working on Test and Trace, but he cannot seriously look at the statistics and tell us that the system is effective. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster did not defend it. When he was asked about the statistics on “The Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday, he said that

“any test and trace system of whatever kind has less utility” when the virus is accelerating. If the Secretary of State thinks that there is a good set of statistics, perhaps he should send it to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who took a different line on Sunday.

Let me come to a conclusion, because I know that many people want to speak in this debate. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State tells me to leave out the knockabout, but he is the one who started it off. The problem is that we went into this pandemic with an underfunded NHS, public health cut back and less resilience as a society. This will not be the only pandemic that we have to deal with. Climate change, urbanisation and deforestation mean that we are likely to see more viruses jump from animals to humans. The big challenge for us as a society when we come through this pandemic, as we will, is that we have to start building the health security to protect us for the future, because unfortunately, all of us across the House will be dealing with more of these pandemics in the years to come.