Public Health

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:39 pm on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Brexit) 2:39 pm, 1st December 2020

It is hard to follow Sir Desmond Swayne.

As a Northern Ireland Member, however, may I say first of all that people might ask, “What input do you have into a debate about restrictions in England?” The truth is that whatever restrictions are introduced in England tend to be replicated—and sometimes magnified —by the Health Minister in Northern Ireland. Let me give one example. In my constituency is the lovely Carnfunnock Park. I could go for a walk through it today, with a golf bag over my shoulder, but if I dodged through the hedge into the golf course next door I would be breaking the law, because the law was introduced here that if you played golf, you would somehow kill some of the population, so you could not do it. The restrictions introduced here will have an impact in Northern Ireland.

I could live with restrictions if they actually proved effective; but if they are, why are we discussing introducing a form of lockdown for the fourth time, and hearing the same arguments—that if we do not have it the health service will be overwhelmed, the R rate will increase, the number of infections will increase and people will die? We have had lockdowns before, and yet the same factors are coming to the fore once again.

Of course, it is hard to do controlled experiments with such a virus. But the New England Journal of Medicine reported on an experiment that was conducted with marines, in which 2,000 were totally isolated and observed all the restrictions that we have introduced here, and another 2,000 did not, and they found no difference in infection rates. The report was not widely published because some of the science around it was contradictory.

The second reason why I am against the lockdown is its disproportionate effect on business.