Government Response to Covid-19: Public Inquiry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:03 pm on 22nd July 2021.

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Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price Conservative, Thurrock 3:03 pm, 22nd July 2021

I thank everyone who has contributed to this debate. There is a great degree of consensus: we all want this inquiry to be very much focused on learning lessons. I guess the real issue of contention is timing, more than anything else. That reflects the tension between doing the job properly and thoroughly, and potentially making timely reflections so that we can act quickly. I want to associate myself with the comments made by my hon. Friend Sir Bernard Jenkin. We need to focus on the outcome of the inquiry to get it right, and that outcome must be confidence—confidence from the public that we have learned those lessons and confidence across the system that we have taken steps to ensure that we deal with such issues more effectively in future. In that regard, I welcome the tone with which my right hon. Friend the Minister addressed the issues we considered today. I hope that that reflects how the Government take this issue forward.

It will take time for the inquiry to get up and running, so the sooner we can get on with making the appointments and setting the approach the better. It will be some considerable time before the inquiry starts to impact on those parts of the Government that are dealing with the pandemic now. I hope that we will be able to reflect on that again in due course.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
notes the Fifth Report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee of Session 2019-21, A Public Inquiry into the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, HC 541; and calls on the Government to provide an updated response to that set out in the Committee’s Fourth Special Report of Session 2019-21, A Public Inquiry into the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic: Government’s response to the Committee’s Fifth Report, HC 995, setting out how the Government intends to implement the Committee’s recommendations, to ensure that the administrative arrangements necessary to set up the public inquiry committed to by the Prime Minister to the House on 11 May 2021, in particular the appointment of an inquiry chair, take place in a timely manner and no later than the end of this year, and to agree: that the Government’s preferred candidate to chair the inquiry should be subject to a pre-appointment hearing by the relevant select committee for the sponsoring Government department.