Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:08 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker Conservative, Wycombe 6:08 pm, 12th January 2021

I refer to the declarations that I have made in relation to the Covid Recovery Group.

This country needs hope. It needs hope that is sure, certain and not far away, and it needs it first and foremost because of the scale of the disease in our hospitals, including here in Buckinghamshire, where the number of patients in hospital has now exceeded the first wave.

I pay tribute to the speech of my hon. Friend Lee Rowley, who raised the issue of the allegation of false PCR test results. That people are saying such things is a real problem that is stoking conspiracy theories now. One only needs to listen to hospital doctors to know that they do not need PCR tests today to know that there is a serious respiratory disease epidemic. People have pneumonia needing oxygen. They have characteristic X-rays, characteristic blood test results and characteristic symptoms. Real doctors and real patients know that this is a real epidemic, and no one should say otherwise.

We need hope because too many people are going without medical care because coronavirus rates are too high. Wrongly, they are not presenting themselves because they fear putting a burden on the NHS. I would say to them: please do present. We need hope because too many businesses are suffering. I do not know what a lockdown enthusiast says to someone who says, as someone said to me, that they have lost their livelihood—their life’s work—towards the end of their working life, and that their household of six people know nine people who have committed suicide. What do you say to such a person? We need to move beyond anecdotes to real data. That is why I and my colleagues have been calling for proper cost-benefit analysis throughout this pandemic. We cannot afford to focus on any one aspect of this crisis.

To bring hope, the Government need to stop fear. I think that the fearful are already terrified. We need other methods to reach those who have not been complying —yes, enforcement, but good-quality enforcement, and that requires good law. The goal must be to get to a point where there are no more restrictions—where we have returned to a free life.

That is why this vaccination programme is so important. I am delighted that the Government have established centres in Wycombe, as has been announced today. We all need to support that vaccination programme. We all need to comply with the rules, whether we like them or not, in order to look after one another. The Government have told us that 88% of the fatalities from coronavirus can be dealt with by reaching the top four JCVI groups. That is what the Government must now focus on, and, having delivered it, it is imperative that they set out a clear plan—to bring hope by setting us free.