Coronavirus Regulations for the North of England – 25.09.2020
Speech in the House of Lords
My Lords, I declare an interest as I live in the north-west of England, as do members of my family, one of whom is an A&E doctor working with Covid patients.
Greater Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham, has described the situation in the region as “chaotic”. Across the political divide, Bolton’s MP, Chris Green, laments a breakdown in the communication of decisions.
Constantly changing messaging has been buttressed by muddle and confusion. Take my unanswered Written Questions about why grandparents are prohibited from helping frontline workers with their young grandchildren, while simultaneously, several separate adults have been able to go to a public house together. Others, urged to return to the office just weeks ago, are now told not to, unless it is essential.
We must be honest with the public about risks but let them judge for themselves. The priority must be to protect the vulnerable, remembering that there were nearly 30,000 extra care home deaths between 2 March and June 12 this year, compared with the same period in 2019.
A new study in the Lancet of data from Salford found that between March and May, diagnoses of serious health conditions halved, with lethal consequences.
For the general population, clearer decisions should be decided more locally, as in Germany and South Korea, where decentralisation has been effective. An over-centralised “pushmi-pullyu”, stop-start approach destroys jobs and drives up unemployment.
That in turn will have catastrophic consequences across the north-west every bit as destructive of health and well-being as Covid-19. Chaos and confusion undermine confidence in government, while an emasculated Parliament gives the illusion of accountability and scrutiny.
Our loss of liberty under the cover of Covid-19, and the intolerable threat to use our Armed Forces to enforce decrees and edicts touching every aspect of our lives, is simply not acceptable, and Ministers need to understand that.