Sue Gray Report - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:28 pm on 25th May 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Andrews Baroness Andrews Chair, Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee, Chair, Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee, Chair, Adult Social Care Committee, Chair, Adult Social Care Committee 9:28 pm, 25th May 2022

My Lords, one of the reasons I regret that the House is empty this evening is that noble Lords were not able to hear the speeches of my noble friend on the Front Bench and the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, because they were both forensic and demonstrated the values we would expect in public service. One of the questions my noble friend asked was about what the Prime Minister understands by “full responsibility”. Does he accept that it means taking responsibility for the culture and behaviour of the entire management of what he is responsible for in the Cabinet Office?

What I heard this afternoon was not a full apology or the taking of full responsibility but a series of excuses. One of the most egregious was that, at the time, it was legitimate for Downing Street as a whole to have those parties to say goodbye to civil servants—when nurses, doctors and people throughout the health and care service simply would never have contemplated doing that, no matter how many of their colleagues left, as people became ill or were threatened by Covid. Can the noble Baroness explain to this House what she understands the nature of “full responsibility” for a Prime Minister, as leader of the Government, to mean?