On Wednesday 4 November I spoke in the House of Commons during the public health debate prior to voting on the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)(England)(No. 4) Regulations 2020, which provided for national coronavirus measures.
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)
Forty-eight hours ago, I came to the House and asked the Government to sharpen the axe with regard to the measures that are being put in place. Today, the House will decide whether to use that axe. This is a Rubicon moment, with a national Sophie’s choice. If we use the axe, we will have the biggest impact we have had on civil liberties since the war. We will cause economic damage and job losses, and we will mortally wound businesses. There will be mental health problems, and we will indebt our children and our children’s children.
On the other hand, if we do nothing, NHS surge capacity is likely to be breached. The quagmire of covid will kill off all the non-covid cancer, stroke and joint operations. More people will be left with long covid. Staff will struggle to cope, facing burnout or, worse still, literally having to choose whose mother, father, grandfather or grandmother will get treatment. This is a horror choice for any Government, and I think it is right that the 650 representatives from across the country will make this decision.
Unfortunately, there is no double-blind trial running, with a second UK where we can see what else is happening. We have to make a judgment call about what we think might happen. For me, the concern is over surge capacity. In the Health Committee, we have seen evidence of what happens when it is breached. In Italy, there were so many over-subscribed beds that people could not get treatment. People aged over 60 were written off, purely on the basis of their age. Many in the House might well find themselves written off for that very reason. In Spain, nursing homes were abandoned with people in them. We have to take that seriously. If hon. Members think that that cannot happen here, I ask them to look at the letter they received this morning from NHS Providers, which represents all 216 trusts. It asks us to support the motion, because urgent action is needed.
I spoke before about how the virus has opened Pandora’s box, and how we need hope. That hope comes in the ingenuity of vaccines, but until then I believe our communities will follow the lockdown rules. I believe that the Treasury should continue to actively listen and do its darnedest to support businesses and jobs, and I believe that mass testing must be rolled out so that people can get a test and carry on their daily living. I will support the lockdown but I will hold the Government to account to mitigate the impact of using this tool and make sure that we cut down the covid pandemic.
During my speech I referenced a letter from all 216 NHS trusts, asking for urgent action and to support the motion. You can read the letter in the PDF file below.