Covid-19 Update Debate

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Department: Leader of the House
Tuesday 3rd November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Newby, for their comments and will attempt to answer their questions. They asked what had changed to mean that we are now looking to introduce these new restrictions. As SAGE said in September in relation to a circuit break, we had to balance the epidemiology against the real damage that lockdowns cause for the economy and people’s mental health, which is something we all acknowledge. We had hoped that the strong local action we were looking to take would get the rates of infection down. It is important to say that the measures have made sure that the R rate is lower than it would have been but, unfortunately, we have seen the rates going up and have exhausted every other tool at our disposal in trying to suppress local outbreaks with local action.

We were presented with national data that we could not ignore. It suggested, for instance, that if we did not take further measures, we could exceed the first wave peak around 20 November, exceed currently available hospital beds around 23 November and exceed surge capacity—capacity freed up from postponing some local hospital services—around 4 December. Data like that meant that the Prime Minister felt that we needed to take further action.

The noble Lord, Lord Newby, mentioned scientific evidence and the data. I should stress that the case for the latest measures was not built around the analysis to which he referred about possible deaths. As I have said to noble Lords on many occasions—I know that everyone is aware of this—a whole series of metrics is involved in these decisions, including the medium-term projections on hospital admissions and daily deaths, as well as the evidence on the ground, which in too many areas, unfortunately, were going in the wrong direction.

The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Newby, talked about the economic support. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for acknowledging the extension of the furlough scheme and some of the other measures we have taken in relation to the self-employed. We have had one of the most comprehensive economic responses of any country, with more than £200 billion of support. She and the noble Lord mentioned sectors that are struggling and need support. I hope that noble Lords will accept that we have moved to try to address the circumstances and support our businesses. We will continue to do that. The noble Lord mentioned the charter and looking at the carers’ allowance. We will of course keep all this under review as we start to see the impact of the latest lockdown as we move towards 2 December.

The new restrictions are being accompanied by additional support through the extension of the furlough scheme, whereby employees receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. There is an additional £1.1billion for local authorities to enable them to support businesses in their areas more broadly. We will continue to look at the economic package and there is strategic long-term planning to make sure that we can provide the support needed.

The noble Baroness asked about evictions. From the start of the pandemic, we have provided nearly £1 billion of support by raising the local housing allowance to cover at least 30% of market rents. As she will know, we changed the law to double eviction notice periods from three to six months, allowing someone who is served notice today to stay in their home until May, save for the most serious cases. We will continue to protect renters facing hardship from eviction and set out further details of measures soon.

The noble Lord talked about our relationships with the devolved authorities. I think that there are more similarities than differences in our approaches. For instance, we have all brought in measures at a local and national level to control the virus, mandated closing times for hospitality and brought in social distancing restrictions. We work closely with the devolved Administrations; obviously, the CMOs of the devolved nations talk regularly. However, it is right that they make their own public health assessments and decide what measures they should put in place and are most appropriate.

I assure the noble Lord that we have had hundreds of committee meetings, calls and meetings at official and ministerial levels, and that will continue. We have provided Wales with £4.4 billion of extra funding this year, Scotland with an extra £7.2 billion and Northern Ireland with an extra £2.4 billion through the Barnett guarantee. We are working as a United Kingdom as we tackle this terrible pandemic.

Both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness rightly asked about the end of the current restrictions. As the Prime Minister has said, these measures will be time limited, ending on 2 December, which is when the SIs that we will debate tomorrow will expire. At that point, we will review the restrictions, which will be eased on a regional basis, according to the latest data. Of course, the aim of this action is to get the R number down now, beat this surge and use this opportunity to exploit the medical and technological advances we have made. For instance, I am sure noble Lords have seen the pilot in Liverpool of the mass city testing as well as the better drug treatments that we have and tackling some of the issues we have seen with test and trace.

The R rate is lower as we move into this new phase than it was in March, so we are confident, knowing that the great British public will stick to these rules, that we will have a good reduction in the R rate and that we will be able to come out of these restrictions. I cannot predict what will happen after 2 December, but I assure noble Lords that we will work to make sure that everyone has as much clarity and confidence as they can.

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Morris of Bolton) (Con)
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My Lords, we now come to the 30 minutes allocated for Back-Bench questions. I ask that questions and answers be brief so that I can call the maximum number of speakers.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick Portrait Lord Lamont of Lerwick (Con) [V]
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My Lords, the Government have a very difficult task indeed, and I ask my question simply in a spirit of inquiry. I am puzzled by the latest graphs, to which the noble Lord, Lord Newby, referred: the four winter scenarios shown to the country by Patrick Vallance on Saturday, showing deaths totalling 4,000 a day. Is this really a realistic possible figure, considering that the previous realistic worst possible case forecast was 800 a day? The daily death rate was 1,000 in the first wave, and this figure is well above the daily death rate of a country like Brazil. Why is the second wave forecast to be so much worse than the first? Was lockdown ineffective and just temporary or is it, as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer suggested yesterday, just in the nature of the virus that the second wave would be worse? If so, why was this not predicted in previous forecasts and why did anyone ever talk about defeating the virus?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I thank my noble friend. I hope that I mentioned, in my response to the noble Lord, Lord Newby—and I should stress this—that I believe the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser are giving evidence to the Commons Select Committee at the moment to say that the case for the latest measures was not built on the analysis of deaths that the noble Lord mentions. This was not a prediction but just one of the possible worst-case scenarios. As I said, a whole series of other metrics informed the decision as well as the evidence on the ground, which, unfortunately, showed that things were going in the wrong direction. In particular, for instance, the over-60s rate was going up, which correlates with future hospitalisations, and that is still rising. As such, it was a range of measures, and those particular numbers that he mentions were not the reason on which this lockdown, or these proposed measures, have been put forward.

Lord Bishop of Winchester Portrait The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]
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My Lords, the situation facing the country is gravely concerning and we all have a collective responsibility to avoid over- whelming the NHS with the spread of the virus. Churches and faith communities continue to play a crucial role in supporting their local communities. The social and economic support of churches has been estimated at more than £12 billion a year. In my diocese, many churches have offered emergency food and essential supplies to those in desperate need as part of the love your neighbour initiative. It is pleasing, therefore, that the Government have recognised the significance of this contribution by permitting places of worship to continue to offer such essential services during lockdown. I also welcome the provision for private prayer, broadcast and the continuation of funerals.

However the most reverend Primates the Archbishops and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said in their letter to clergy this weekend:

“The sacramental life of the church cannot be seen as an optional extra.”


Access to the sacraments and communal worship are essential to sustain us with much needed hope at this time and to strengthen our commitment to social action. Yet more is needed: people need to be married and not just buried. I am glad to say that we are not exactly in the place where we were in March. Many clergy have worked hard to ensure that places of worship are safe places to be. Today our Archbishops, the Cardinal, the Chief Rabbi and other faith leaders have written to the Prime Minister to say that the continuation of public worship is essential. Will the Minister commit to review the blanket ban? If not, will she publish the evidence used to justify this decision?

Lastly, given the lack of consultation with faith communities before this announcement, can the Minister provide assurances that the Government will consult the churches and other faiths in advance of future decisions such as these?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Of course we recognise that religious practice is of fundamental importance to millions of people across the country. That is why we are enabling individual prayer in places of worship for those who practise that way. We absolutely understand that, for people of faith who take part in communal worship, it will be extremely disappointing news that it cannot continue for the next month, and, of course, it will be difficult for those whose festivals fall during this time. We entirely understand the issue, but we are committed to ensuring that we work collectively to bring the R rate down so that in December we can, we hope, start to get back to normality once we have suppressed the virus, which is what we are all intending to do.

Lord Ashton of Hyde Portrait Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con)
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My Lords, I remind noble Lords that this time is meant for questions not statements, which will allow all noble Lords who want to to get in.

Lord Kakkar Portrait Lord Kakkar (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I draw attention to my registered interests. The lockdown for the coming month in England must achieve a substantial reduction in coronavirus circulation in the community so that hospitals are not overwhelmed by Covid-19 admissions and are able to continue to admit Covid-19 and non-Covid patients requiring urgent and elective care in future. How will Her Majesty’s Government use this one-month period better to prepare our National Health Service and our public health systems to secure these objectives so that further lockdowns will not be necessary?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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The noble Lord is absolutely right. Concerns about pressure on the NHS were one of the key drivers behind the decision made as well as the fact that, unfortunately, we are seeing in some areas of the country a small number of non-elective procedures having to be cancelled, and we absolutely do not want that to happen. That is why during this time opticians, pharmacies and GPs will stay open, and we will continue to urge people who need any type of medical opinion, attention or treatment to continue to attend appointments and see professionals. We are ramping up testing capacity. We are providing millions of items of PPE, £3 billion of funding to make sure the Nightingales can provide surge capacity and £300 million to make sure that departments have the funding they need to upgrade ahead of the winter and ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Baroness Morgan of Cotes (Con) [V]
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My Lords, as part of Saturday night’s slide presentation, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser made it clear that the Covid-19 hospital admissions rate is the key factor in deciding on a new national lockdown now. Has the bed and ventilator capacity offered by the Nightingale hospitals been taken into account when calculating admission rates compared to the last peak and surge capacity in our NHS?

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Portrait Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (CB) [V]
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My Lords, financial support is essential to compliance with lockdown. At the start of the Welsh lockdown, the Government declined the Welsh Government’s request for early access to the job support scheme, despite Wales offering £11 million towards it, and declined a request to widen eligibility for the job retention scheme. Now that the job retention scheme has been extended and includes workers recently made redundant, will support be backdated to 23 October for Wales and be guaranteed for future lockdowns, if needed, in the devolved nations?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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As we have made clear, the furlough scheme is a UK-wide scheme, and, as the Prime Minister said, we will always be there for all parts of the UK.

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top Portrait Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, can the Minister confirm that local authorities now get sufficient information and data to know where their centres of infection are? Will the Government commit today to working with them to ensure that they have the resources to bear down on those places, whatever they may be, so that they can confidently be prepared to come out of lockdown and to keep on top of that? That means that they will need to be on top of test, track and trace in that more dangerous time after lockdown in particular. Local authorities have shown that they can do track and trace effectively. Why do the Government not work with them in a more trustworthy way and give us all hope that we can get out of lock- down and begin to deal with this virus more effectively?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I entirely agree with the noble Baroness. We are working very closely with local authorities, and they do indeed have significant resources and powers to do local contact tracing. In fact, there are more than 128 local authority contact tracing teams in place around the country, with more to come. I am sure she will be aware of the Liverpool pilot scheme, which we are hoping will be successful and roll out. Everyone living and working in Liverpool will now be offered a Covid test, whether they have symptoms or not. Whole-city testing aims to protect those at highest risk and find asymptomatic cases in order to prevent and reduce transmission in the community, exactly as the noble Baroness said. If this approach works—and we are looking to roll it out—we are hopeful that it will play a significant role in doing exactly what the noble Baroness says in helping to make sure that local authorities and local areas can bear down quickly and effectively on outbreaks within their area.

Lord Bruce of Bennachie Portrait Lord Bruce of Bennachie (LD) [V]
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My Lords, yesterday the Prime Minister, in his characteristic style, said that the same terms would be available to Scotland if it went into lockdown later than England, yet this seems to be have been qualified by Robert Jenrick today, who said that it was a matter for the Chancellor. Scotland is watching to see whether the current restriction levels will bring about a sustained fall in the infection rate or whether more stringent measures will be needed. I am happy to acknowledge the £7.2 billion of additional support provided by the Treasury to Scotland, but we do not want a lockdown just to qualify for furlough, so clarity is needed. Will the same support now being given to England be available to Scotland if it has to follow the same route on a later timescale beyond 2 December?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Lord for acknowledging the £7.2 billion of funding for Scotland. This intervention has saved nearly 1 million jobs in Scotland, which I am sure is very welcome. As we have said, the furlough scheme is a UK-wide scheme, and it will always be there for all parts of the UK.

Viscount Eccles Portrait Viscount Eccles (Con)
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My Lords, I would like to make a small plea about the NHS. There was a very good statement today from Professor Stephen Powis on the actual position facing the NHS. Accurate information is essential to keeping the confidence of the public, as has been said already today. Sometimes it seems that what is happening in the NHS is slightly cloudy behind a lot of other information—scientific information in particular. Will my noble friend encourage the NHS to go on telling us exactly what is happening within its own front line and make sure that, when it does, it gets properly publicised?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Across the House, we pay tribute to all staff in the health service, from doctors and nurses to cleaners and security, who have done so much over the last few months. I cannot imagine the strain they must be feeling at the moment. Data from the NHS is critical. One of the key things we are trying to do in taking these measures is to ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed and continues to provide fantastic service, support and care for all members of our society.

Baroness Bull Portrait Baroness Bull (CB)
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My Lords, like other noble Lords, I welcome the reintroduction of schemes put in place during the first lockdown to protect livelihoods. However, thrown into sharp relief is the absence of a shielding programme this time. This puts people with disabilities and others vulnerable to Covid in a difficult position. It makes going to work a choice for them or their employer, with all the risks that entails. It increases financial peril and makes access to appropriate care a greater challenge. Can the noble Baroness explain why, when support programmes to protect livelihoods have been reintroduced, a formal shielding programme to protect lives has not?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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We learned from the first lockdown that shielding, as I am sure the noble Baroness is aware, can have a considerable impact on mental health and well-being. That is why we decided, at this stage, not to ask people to shield in the same way again. However, we accept that the clinically extremely vulnerable, in particular, will need to minimise their contact with others and not go to work. We are providing over £32 million of extra funding to enable local authorities to provide support to that group, which needs it, including by helping people to access food and meeting other support needs to enable them to stay at home. We have balanced the experience from the first lockdown and its impacts on mental health and well-being with the decision not to suggest shielding, at this point.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe Portrait Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I share the view in the Statement that it was right to try every possible option to get the virus under control at the local level. As the Minister reported, there have been some successes there, but we did not make the progress we should have, overall. Unfortunately, political wrangling has not gone down well with the public, who are getting tired of seeing it. If the Government intend, as they state, to adopt a pragmatic and local approach again in the months ahead, is one of the lessons learned that this might be more successful if the Government seek to bring all the political parties, at all levels, into the process? Would the noble Baroness consider a joint plan of action along the lines suggested by her colleague and former Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bridges of Headley?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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The noble Lord is right that we need co-operation locally and nationally. The Liverpool pilot that I mentioned is starting specifically as a local partnership, with central government support. That was requested by the leaders of Liverpool. We hope that we can roll out this model across the country, with the effects that it will have from its ability to find and bear down on the virus locally. It is absolutely about local and national partnership.

Baroness Doocey Portrait Baroness Doocey (LD) [V]
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My Lords, the tourism and hospitality industries have been thrown into confusion by the latest announcements. Tour operators, conference and events organisers, coach operators and language schools are important components of the travel industry. Will these firms be eligible to claim either the local restrictions support grants or any of the £1.1 billion given to local authorities to support businesses?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Both the pots of money the noble Baroness mentions are under the control of local authorities, and it is entirely up to them to decide which sectors or types of business to support in their area. It is within their gift to provide support, if they have businesses in those sectors, as the money is for them to provide to local businesses, which they know best.

Lord Lansley Portrait Lord Lansley (Con) [V]
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My Lords, does my noble friend agree that we must now plan for several months of constraining transmission of the virus before a vaccine is widely available? Such a plan must mean very limited social contact if we are to keep schools and businesses open and the economy moving, so does she also agree that it will not help to talk of a return to normal any time soon?

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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I think we are all aware that, as I said, we will review the restrictions on 2 December and look to ease them on a regional basis, according to the latest data. The Chief Scientific Officer has been clear that we will not be going back to normal in four weeks’ time—if we can remember what normal is now. My noble friend is absolutely right: we want to use this time to make sure that we provide the drugs that have proved to be quite effective and, as I said, start new pilots such as the one in Liverpool, so that we are able to bear down in a more effective way. We must use this time to bring the R rate down and make sure that we have the tools available to keep it down, so that we do not have to go back to further national measures such as these if we can avoid them.

Viscount Waverley Portrait Viscount Waverley (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I have a quick thought, having listened to the Mayor of Liverpool this morning, about not counting into the statistics those who have multiple tests and were shown to be Covid-free first time around. Thinking of the future with hope, will the Government press for an expansion of the no-tariffs WTO pharmaceutical agreement and an acceleration of the implementation of the WTO trade facilitation agreement? What are the Government planning in preparation for a fair and equitable distribution of any Covid vaccine worldwide that leaves a positive legacy on the global trading system, particularly in relation to no tariffs on medical supplies and to efficient, digitised customs and borders?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I hope the noble Viscount will be pleased to know that, last week, we confirmed that we will join the global COVAX initiative, with the aim of expediting the discovery, manufacture and fair distribution of a vaccine to 1 billion people.

Lord Desai Portrait Lord Desai (Lab) [V]
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Will the Government, at some stage, explain to the country how come we have the same mortality rate per million as the United States, yet while the United States has achieved a 33% growth of GDP quarterly in the third quarter, we are still in a recession? We have protected neither lives nor livelihoods. Can the Government not do better?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I am not sure I heard everything the noble Lord said, so I will go back and check. I think he was talking about the economy, but if I have got that wrong, I apologise. We have put in place one of the most comprehensive economic responses of any country, with more than £200 billion of support. We have protected 12 million jobs through the furlough and self-employed schemes, and we will continue to provide all the support we can to businesses that are struggling at this time.

Lord Empey Portrait Lord Empey (UUP)
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To regain public confidence after the lockdown in England ends on 2 December, will my noble friend ensure that the Government establish a clear series of trigger points that will determine when an area is required to be placed under restrictions, including the financial support that will be available to devolved Administrations or councils, so that unseemly public arguments with local leaders can be avoided in future?

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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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That is certainly what we will be aiming to do, and there will be a lot of work going on over the next months to make sure that we are in a position to do exactly as the noble Lord says.

Lord Mancroft Portrait Lord Mancroft (Con)
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My Lords, will my noble friend comment on the data released today by King’s College, which shows new cases plateauing and a slight fall in cases in England, Wales and Scotland, with an R rate of 1.0?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Yes. Part of the reason behind that is that the number of younger people testing positive is falling, particularly among the university student population. Universities should certainly be congratulated on the work they have been doing, but I point out to my noble friend that the over- 60s rate, which then correlates with future hospitalisations, is still rising.

Baroness Boycott Portrait Baroness Boycott (CB) [V]
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I welcome the more generous level of support to self-employed people announced by the Chancellor, but the 3 million self-employed people who were disqualified from receiving support earlier this year remain so. Given that many of these people are now hungry, as we have seen in Feeding Britain, which I chair, and are having to use food banks for the first time in their lives, will the Minister urgently review the eligibility criteria?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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As I have said, we have put in place a comprehensive economic package but the noble Baroness is right that some people have not benefited from certain schemes. The Treasury and the Chancellor and his team always keep this under review and we will continue to look so that we can provide as much support as we can to people at this difficult time.

Lord Liddle Portrait Lord Liddle (Lab)
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My Lords, do the Government recognise that it is crucial what they do with the breathing space that this lockdown is providing? In that context, did they listen—as I hope they did—to what our former Prime Minister suggested on the “Today” programme yesterday? He said that we should roll out vaccines as soon as we know they are safe, before we know how effective they are; push out experimental therapeutics as long as they are safe; get a grip on the data confusion that exists; and appoint a Secretary of State for Testing to sort out track and trace, just as Churchill appointed Max Beaverbrook in the Second World War to handle aircraft production.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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We have secured early access to 350 million vaccine doses through agreements with six separate vaccine developers, and are investing more than £140 million to make sure that we are ready to manufacture a successful vaccine. We are planning for rollout, making sure that we have adequate transport, PPE and logistical expertise. I assure the noble Lord that, at the forefront of what we are doing, we are working towards making sure that we can take advantage of vaccines when they reach the stage when they can be used.

As we have said, we want track and trace to improve and need faster testing turnaround times. They are improving but I accept that we need to do more. As I have said, the testing pilot in Liverpool is another way in which we hope we will be able to use the time over the next month. By testing a large proportion of a single town or city, more positive cases can be identified and people can be told to self-isolate immediately. The residents and workers of Liverpool will be tested using a combination of existing swab tests and the new lateral flow tests that can turn around results rapidly, within an hour, without needing to be processed in a lab. With all these things together, we will make use of this time to see how much we can roll out so we can really bear down on this in December.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
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My Lords, I think the Cabinet may come to conclude that national lockdown is not the answer. However, let us look forward. When adopting Covid measures in future, can the Government please set out, in a straightforward way, the expected cost-benefit analysis in numerical terms, including not only the number of delayed Covid deaths and hospital admissions but estimates of the economic costs and the cost in other lives lost, as NHS treatment for other diseases is necessarily limited as a result?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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My noble friend is right: we want to be transparent with data and information. Obviously, scientific data and information informing our actions are published on GOV.UK, as are specific relevant findings shared in presentations. I am sure that colleagues across government will take note of what she says.

Earl of Clancarty Portrait The Earl of Clancarty (CB)
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My Lords, I welcome the Government’s stated intention to mass test. What percentage of the population tested in Liverpool would be considered a success, and are the Government looking at the Slovakian example, where being tested is mandatory for all?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Everyone living and working in Liverpool will now be offered a Covid test, whether they have symptoms or not. Testing will begin this week and, as I mentioned in a previous answer, the pilot is being undertaken at the request of and in close collaboration with local leaders. The aim is to better control the spread of the virus and, as the noble Earl rightly says, gain more data about the number of cases across the city, so that even more targeted action can be taken and people find out the results of their test very quickly. Then they will know to self-isolate and will not perhaps unwittingly spread the virus.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, the Minister will be aware that many people have relatives, often aged parents, in care homes, and are unable to visit them because of the restrictions imposed. This is causing a great deal of pain. If we can test all the people of Liverpool, as I welcome, could we not have a rigorous testing programme where all people who have relatives in care homes can be tested so that they can visit their relatives, who often have dementia and are very lonely and isolated?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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The noble Lord is absolutely right, and this is perhaps one of the most—of so many—heartbreaking situations within this pandemic. He will know that regular testing is now available for all care homes, which includes weekly testing of staff and monthly testing of residents. He is absolutely right—in this pilot in Liverpool the aim is to do this, but then to look at being able to roll out this sort of testing within the NHS and care homes so we can do exactly as he suggests.

House adjourned at 4.51 pm.