Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:19 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 3:19 pm, 12th January 2021

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his intervention. With the new variant identified before Christmas, we are seeing hospital admission rates and demand for hospital services rising across our country. That is why it was absolutely right that we instituted the measures that we did, which have seen what it is effectively called a national lockdown at this time. The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Health have been clear that they hope, and would expect, that as we get the infection under control and ease the pressure on the NHS, when it is safe to do so we will be able to look to returning to that tiering system. Exactly as my right hon. Friend says, one of the five key factors in whether an area went up or down among the tiers was local hospital capacity—and I emphasise the “local” in that context—but, sadly, we are not in that place as we stand here and debate this matter today.