Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 11th November 2020.

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Photo of Marco Longhi Marco Longhi Conservative, Dudley North 7:00 pm, 11th November 2020

My constituents are dutifully doing everything they can to halt this deadly disease during the second lockdown. As we commemorate today those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in previous wars, we are fighting a war ourselves against an invisible enemy, so it is a timely reminder that we should also think about all our key workers and constituents, some of whom are making significant sacrifices and some of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice in fighting this terrible war. We have seen businesses battered, religious services banned and we have criminalised families meeting. We have seen some unprecedented restrictions imposed on our daily lives. I fully appreciate and respect that restrictions are vital in keeping the R rate low to protect our vulnerable constituents and to prevent our NHS from being overwhelmed, but we owe it to everybody to explain with robust and clear scientific evidence why we must intrude into people’s lives when we do so with such significance.

For the avoidance of doubt, I fully back the health team, the Prime Minister’s decisions and the Chancellor’s generosity. However, here comes the dreaded but: with Government relying on scientific advice to inform policy, as someone who is an engineer and who understands the statistical variability of forecasting, I have found it very difficult to accept how Government advisers can display a chart that shows a flat worst-case prediction curve with other curves modelling daily death rates between five and 10 times worse at their peak compared with the one they had originally modelled. I must question how we could reach such wildly different outcomes. Public compliance is key, especially while a vaccine is not yet available, but compliance will also be a function of the consistency and credibility of the information that we use to back up our decisions.