Public Health

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:57 pm on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives 5:57 pm, 1st December 2020

I am glad that I came to the Chamber in good time.

I was one of those who voted against the national lockdown, because I am in a privileged position: I am a Cornwall MP and I represent the Isles of Scilly—and Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight are the only parts of England in tier 1. I will therefore be voting, if not enthusiastically, certainly in support of the Government, because the tier system is the right thing to have, in particular for Cornwall.

I want to raise a few things. As a libertarian, I do not want to say this, but it is an important part of a national effort to control the spread of coronavirus. Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and, I assume, the Isle of Wight are concerned about what might happen after today, right through to the Christmas break, because we are already attractive parts of the world and we have suddenly become very much more attractive. Will the Minister and the Secretary of State consider strengthening travel restrictions to ensure that travel from tier 3, for example, is only done when absolutely essential?

We will always welcome visitors to Cornwall to spend their money, but not when we are in a national effort to control the spread of the virus. I say that not just for my constituents, but for the whole of the country. We are seeking to battle the virus, to put an end to it, and to move into 2021 with, I hope, a brighter and more hopeful future.

Even a tier 1 MP, however, needs to make the case for hospitality. This year has been brutal for hospitality. Most of the businesses in Cornwall—as well as in Devon and across the country—depend in some way on tourism and on providing food, accommodation and entertainment for people. Despite the generous support so far, large parts of the sector are very unlikely to survive. Again, as a Cornish MP, so much of my hospitality can open, but it is still very curtailed.

I recognise that this is partly driving the restrictions that we have to vote on tonight: I long for the day, as I am sure millions of people in the UK do, when the NHS can return fully to providing the care that it usually would to people with long-term conditions. I chair the all-party parliamentary group for diabetes; it is a great honour and privilege to do so. A recent report from Manchester University with the Salford Royal Hospital demonstrates that, in April alone, there were twice as many deaths of people with diabetes during the lockdown as would normally be the case; and that there were 45,000 missed or delayed diagnoses of diabetes type 2. We know that, if diabetes is identified later, people’s life chances are reduced, their conditions are aggravated, and pressure of all kinds on the system of social care and the NHS is increased. Please may we do what we can to get the NHS to return to fully caring for those with long-term conditions?