Covid-19

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 11th November 2020.

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Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight 7:30 pm, 11th November 2020

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Andy Carter. I agree that the work of the vaccine taskforce has been superb. It is one of the reasons why we are first in a lot of queues; we are ahead of EU states, for example. I thank all the careworkers and NHS staff on the Isle of Wight for the wonderful work they do. In the short time I have, I will make two brief points: on data and on strategy.

First, we all agree that, in a free state, rather than a police state, Government need to be respected and trusted and part of that trust surely rests on the use of data. We all remember how Labour was destroyed over what it said on the Gulf war and the dodgy dossiers. We cannot go down that route again with data. So does the Minister share my concern that so many people, including reputable scientists, have raised significant issues about how we are using data and the transparency of data? For me, the answer to that question is for the Government to become fully transparent with all the science and, in the spirit of the great national endeavour we are in, allow and encourage examination of that data by independent scientists, preferably prior to decision making, not commenting afterwards and finding significant flaws in the data. That data should include the full cost of lockdowns: medical, social and economic, and short and medium term.

Secondly, may we please have a strategic approach to this problem? It would be wonderful if a vaccine works perfectly, but that is unlikely and waiting for a magic bullet is not a strategy but the absence of one. If we have a clear strategy and clear use of data, it would be much easier for the Government to turn to Conservative Members and ask us for the support they will need in the weeks and months ahead.