Covid-19: Lockdown Costs and Benefits Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

Covid-19: Lockdown Costs and Benefits

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Wednesday 13th March 2024

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for his wise observations. I would observe that the health of the economy and the health of the population tend to go in tandem, and that was one of the things that we noted during the pandemic. However, I come back to my point that the inquiry needs to look at these things for us. We need to learn the lessons and look at evidence objectively.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, throughout the pandemic, the great British public stepped up, stuck to the rules and did everything asked of them, from staying indoors to volunteering at vaccine centres. There is plenty to be learned about what worked and what did not, not least when it comes to government procurement. While the Minister is in this reflective mood, can she tell us what is to stop the same wasteful approach to emergency contracting rules that we saw during the pandemic, with friends and donors of the Tory party given fast-track VIP access while decent, skilled, local businesses were denied the same opportunity?

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
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I cannot accept that conclusion. Due diligence was carried out on all companies that were referred to the Department of Health and Social Care, and companies were subject to the same checks. However, module 5 of the inquiry will look at procurement. The noble Baroness and I worked on changes to the Procurement Act, not least to bring in a higher degree of transparency and to make sure that we have more competition in procurement, which I am sure will be helpful in a future pandemic.