Public Health

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:08 pm on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Luke Evans Luke Evans Conservative, Bosworth 5:08 pm, 1st December 2020

Most of the east midlands is in tier 3 due to the vast number of cases in the second wave. Applying the five criteria to my constituency, we have had above national average rates in all ages and above national average rates in the above-60s, yet our rates have fallen significantly and our positive rates are falling. However, pressure on our local NHS is still high, as rates are 30% above the peak in covid cases in April, and there is a serious risk of further suspension and cancellation of non-covid services. When I voted for the national lockdown, it was to protect the NHS nationally from being overloaded, and the same logic applies locally.

However, my concerns are wider than that and what happens in two weeks. My first concern is being coupled with Leicester. The second is the model applied on 16 December. Since the announcement of the tiers, my Leicestershire colleagues and I have argued for Leicestershire to be decoupled from the city. This is not covid nimbyism but an evidence-based approach. How can I be sure? Because Leicester and Leicestershire are living proof of a model that worked for us before. We did it in the summer. If a blanket approach had been taken, Hinckley and Bosworth would have been entering 154 days of higher lockdown measures, like the city. It was unjustifiable then, and it is unjustifiable now. I have taken heart from the assurances I have received privately and in a letter from the Health Secretary, in which he stated:

“We will again assess each area individually, including Leicestershire, on its own merits.”

That leads me to the second part: moving tiers. The Prime Minister said in response to my right hon. Friend Greg Clark that he would be taking as “granular” an approach as possible. On 1 September, the Health Secretary said to the Chamber:

“We are driven by the data.”—[Official Report, 1 September 2020;
Vol. 679, c. 36.]

Taking those two points together, Hinckley and Bosworth have categorically proved that my community can apply the rules and maintain tier 1 while neighbours are in tier 3. This is unequivocal, real-world data for a borough-based model in Leicestershire.

My ask of the Government is this. Let the people of Hinckley and Bosworth be the masters of their own destiny. Empower them to follow the rules and drive the rates and hospital admissions down. Give them the chance to again demonstrate, as we did in the summer, that we can control the virus. In return, come the 16th, provide them with a lower tier and a tried and tested borough-based system for Leicestershire, so that we can save lives and livelihoods.