On Monday 2 November I spoke in the House of Commons during the general covid debate.
You can hear my speech in this video.
Alternatively you can find an extract from Hansard, the official report of proceedings in the House of Commons, below:
Dr Luke Evans (Bosworth) (Con)
This debate serves as a good place to set the scene for 48 hours’ time. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper) that a large number of people will want to speak in that debate and consideration should be given to increasing its length.
In 48 hours’ time, we will be looking at measures to protect the NHS—to stop it being overburdened, to protect the workforce, to protect the most vulnerable, and to try to help get through non-covid and covid problems. In 48 hours’ time, we will be voting on the economic impact, trying to mitigate the measures we are putting in place, trying to maintain businesses and to support jobs, trying to create covid-secure measures, and discussing the impact on the finances of this country for our children and our children’s children. In 48 hours’ time, there will be a vote, and every Member will have to consider the impact of what that means.
I want to spend the few minutes I have talking about the pragmatic side before we get to the debate on Wednesday, which I hope to speak in. I think it was Lincoln who said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” That is what I want the Government to do in the next 48 hours. The one benefit we have is that we have learned from last time’s lockdown. We know what it looked like. People know what it looked like. This House knows what it looked like. Therefore, we can use these 48 hours to pull the guidance together to deal with the concerns, iron out the anomalies—for example, on garden centres—and explain the differences: that schools are now open, that we now have bubbles, and that people now understand that they should get a test. This is something we have control over as the Government—the communication of how we put that message out. We have 48 hours to get that right.
The concerns from Bosworth in my email inbox today are many and varied, from non-covid work, health work and mental health, to golf and fishing, to the ability to take away beer or go to the gym and faith meetings. The Minister and the Secretary of State were kind enough to be at my meeting on Sunday to hear these questions from many MPs. Indeed, we have heard them raised yet again tonight. The civil service is looking at how to put this all in place. I urge the Government to hear those messages, to learn from what we have seen before, and, even better, to put it all together in a document that compares what we had before with what we are having in future so that everyone, from MPs in this House to the general public, can see what has changed and what stays the same. We have 48 hours to sharpen the guidance ready for Wednesday. I hope that on Wednesday, in doing that, we can cut down covid.