Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 11th November 2020.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Shadow Minister (Education) 6:30 pm, 11th November 2020

The Minister may be aware that Hull has the highest rate of covid infections in the country; we have 161 patients in Hull Royal Infirmary, 16 of whom are in intensive care, and 265 have died since the pandemic began. The situation in Hull and the East Riding is a public health emergency, so where are these Nightingale hospitals to help? I have been told that they have been mothballed and will not be reopened. Our rate is double that of the average in England, and I am incredibly worried about the situation in schools. Despite the headlines saying that they remain open, year groups are being sent home, not to self-isolate, but because teachers are not available to teach in them. Where is the testing for staff, to keep these schools open? Where is this additional support? Why has Hull not had support from the armed forces as Liverpool has had when its rates became so high? We have been promised 10,000 tests, but that will not be enough. This is not a league table I want my city to top; we need that additional help from Government if we are going to move down it.

Losing someone hurts. On Monday, I lost my nan to covid-19. She did not die in Hull; she died somewhere else. I hope that if my mum is watching, she knows that I am sending her all my love from this place and that as soon as possible I will be round there to give her a hug and we can remember all the wonderful things my nan did. It was only last year when I stood up in this Chamber and told everyone what a remarkable woman she was. I urge people to take this situation seriously.

The northern powerhouse study shows that because we started from an uneven point in the north, covid has had a disproportional impact on the cities we represent. The report today says that we have had an extra 12.4 deaths per 100,000 in the northern powerhouse that in the rest of England put together, and an extra 57.7 deaths per 100,000 due to all causes during this pandemic. Things are not equal; this pandemic has not impacted all of us equally, and it has an economic cost. To all those who make the false divide between health and the economy, I say: think again. All those additional people who have died in the areas in the northern powerhouse have had an economic impact—it is not just the heartbreak of people who have lost loved ones. Some £6.86 billion has been lost in economic growth. There is no divide between health and economy; sort out the problem with health and then deal with the problem with the economy. They are not mutually exclusive.

Compliance is falling in my area, and there is mistrust of the Government. We need transparency, honesty and openness. We need a Government to admit it when they get things wrong. We need to explain why the rules are different for golf and for walking, for private worship and for visiting the supermarket, because people will then understand. The gap from Government in information, clarity and transparency is being filled with misinformation, lies and dangerous fake news on social media telling people that this is not real. Well it is real when you lose people. Some 50,000 lives have already been lost in this pandemic. That is 50,000 families who have been impacted. I do not want a Government who are focused on PR, bluster and incoherent metaphors. What I want is a Government just to give people honest and straightforward advice, so that together we can try to deal with this virus.