My Lords, another day, another set of restrictions. Of course, they are all as plain as day and not confusing at all, which is why we are discussing an amendment to the regulations about singing and dancing laid only nine days after the original.
I am sure that all noble Lords, when they were about 10 or 11 years old, had a teacher who could not keep order in class. At my school it was a he. He would stamp his little foot and say, “If you don’t do as you’re told, I will keep you all in for a detention.” I say to my noble friend on the Front Bench, first, hard luck being dealt the hospital pass of defending all these regulations. Secondly, I see that the Government are now blaming the people, and that is really not a good idea. We have these new measures, which, as we know, the Prime Minister finds confusing. I find them contradictory, draconian and very difficult to enforce.
The question has to be: are the regulations working? Leicester, near where I live, has been locked down for over 100 days, but infections have gone up. Is the policy working? I understand that Calderdale, which has been locked down for 10 weeks, has seen infections rise fivefold. “Let’s blame the people; it’s all their fault.” In Bolton, infection rates have risen tenfold. Should we blame the people? I suggest that we should blame the policies. We should go back to first principles—a reset, as has just been said. We should find out how many people are dying, what good the policy is doing, and work from there, rather than from what we are getting far too much of at the moment.
I was in a Zoom meeting with Matt Hancock just now. He has told us that more than 200 people are dying from the virus a week, but over 11,000 people die every week. I heard Professor Van-Tam say that these are the biggest restrictions that we have seen in peacetime, but this is not a war. I urge the Government not to double down on failing policies but to look at the evidence and not deal with scare stories in the media, scientific modelling that does not work or opinion polls.