Covid-19 Update - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:32 pm on 15th June 2021.

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Photo of Lord Bethell Lord Bethell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 1:32 pm, 15th June 2021

I hear loud and clear the frustration of many noble Lords on the question of singing in churches; it is enormously frustrating to those who have a passion for singing. But I would be pretending to be other than I am if I did not level with the right reverend Prelate and say that this is an airborne, aerosol disease. It is breathed into buildings at huge risk to those inside, and there is a direct correlation between infection rates, that aerosol and that kind of singing. The decision has been made with huge regret and not without a huge amount of scientific analysis, and those who have made their case have been heard loud and clear—but we have to fight this virus and prevent people getting sick.

I do not accept the right reverend Prelate’s view that discipline has broken down. Quite the opposite: I am astounded by the British public and their adherence to voluntary guidelines and arrangements. I pay tribute to the British public, and I do not think that the right reverend Prelate does any favours when he suggests that discipline has broken down.

Lastly, I really do not accept the concept of an acceptable death rate. That is not how we play the health system in this country. We are here to save lives; that is our priority. There is a balance between the economy, freedom and lives, but as a Health Minister my starting point is to save lives.