Covid-19: Recovery Strategies - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:39 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Sheehan Baroness Sheehan Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development) 1:39 pm, 11th June 2020

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for tabling this important debate. The inherent unfairness in UK society has been laid bare. The people who have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 crisis have been key workers in areas that include retail, transport, health and care settings. These essential front-line workers, often on zero-hours contracts, have to work. A disproportionate number of them come from BAME communities.

The Public Health England report of 2 June confirmed that black and Asian ethnic groups are up to twice as likely to die from Covid-19 and, shockingly, that deaths among black males were nearly four times higher than expected between 20 March and 7 May. We must work to still the huge unrest among these communities, and I, for one, want to state my support for the Black Lives Matter campaign. The PHE report failed to delve into the reasons behind the figures, but the Government have many questions to answer in the inevitable public inquiry that must take place.

The world had warning about the pandemic, but Governments, including our own, failed to act. We must not fail to act to tackle the warning of climate chaos that is hurtling down the track. If we do not act, the people who will bear the brunt will again be the most disadvantaged.

In rebuilding our economy, we must place greater value on people and on our planet. It would be foolhardy to do other than heed the many authoritative voices calling for just that, including the Committee on Climate Change, the Oxford Review of Economic Policy and more than 200 business leaders from the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group.