Public Health

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee of Privileges, Chair, Committee of Privileges 5:11 pm, 1st December 2020

I start from the fundamental principle that we do need restrictions across the country in some shape or form. I remember earlier in the year being howled at by various lunatic journalists who told me angrily that the idea that we would ever get to 200 deaths a day this autumn was preposterous and based on false science. Well, we have seen 400, 500 and, on occasion, 600 deaths a day, so we have to take these matters seriously.

As Advent always leads to Christmas, and as Christmas always leads to Epiphany, so lower restrictions always lead to higher transmission rates, and higher transmission rates always lead to problems for the local NHS. That is true in every country in the world; there is no way of avoiding it. Government Members would be daft to listen to the blandishments that they have heard from the Prime Minister over the last couple of days. I would bet that not a single area goes from tier 2 to tier 1 before Christmas, simply because tier 2 does not work—it does not bring the numbers down. There might be some areas that go from tier 3 to tier 2, but there will not be any that go from tier 2 to tier 1, and the Government know it.

There will not be any more nuanced rules and granularity when it comes to the second week of December or the end of February. One thing that has been really difficult for businesses in the hospitality industry is that they are endlessly being told to switch on and switch off. Someone who runs a pub buys in the beer and then has to pour it all down the drain. Incidentally, they are not allowed to pour it down the drain any more. They have to make special provision for it, and that does not mean bringing all their friends round and drinking it. There is a real problem in the brewing industry, and every time we switch on and switch off, it makes this all the more difficult.

I say to the Prime Minister: stop with the metaphors—I am sick and tired of them—and no more over-promising, because when he under-delivers on those promises, it means that the nation stops believing in him. Let us also not be parochial. I am sorry to say to Dr Evans that he was being precisely nimbyish. He was saying that he does not want Leicester in his backyard—that is nimbyism. The truth is that we are all in this together, and we have to take this forward as a national enterprise, not a parochial one.