Covid-19: Aligning UK and Foreign Entry and Return Requirements

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Bethell
Monday 19th July 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I completely agree with the noble Lord that we should be utterly committed to the route to sustainable, open borders. However, we cannot hide from the threat of infection from abroad. That infection comes from higher rates from abroad—the positivity rates of some countries have been in the high teens—but also the threat of variants of concern, particularly the vaccine-evading beta variant, which is highly prevalent in some countries, including, increasingly, France.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the lack of co-ordination of regulations and announcements between the four Governments of the United Kingdom has been one of the worst examples of incompetence throughout these past 16 months. That is now particularly true in relation to international travel. Why is it impossible for these four Governments to agree one set of rules for people travelling in and out of the United Kingdom? What will the Government do to try to improve the situation, even if it cannot be resolved for the summer-?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I am not sure whether I agree with the premise of the question. I pay tribute to the collaborative spirit in which the four nations have worked together. I have regular meetings with my counterparties—in fact I have one this afternoon—in order to talk about exactly this sort of co-ordination. The answer to the noble Lord’s question is, in the framing of the question, that it is not in my or the Government’s gift to manage this on our own; we depend on collaboration in order to have co-ordination.

HIV: Ending Transmissions

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Bethell
Tuesday 1st December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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My Lords, I noticed the recommendation that every late diagnosis should be regarded as a major contagion, reported and followed up by an authority such as PHE. This is something for PHE to consider for itself, but I will certainly write to it to raise the recommendation and ask it to respond to me.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the doubling of mother-to-child transmissions around the world is just one of the implications of this year of instability in health services around the world caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In my experience around the world, one of the greatest fears of those living with HIV is instability, whether that is caused by climate change, conflict or pandemics. What are the Government going to achieve by cutting £4 billion in overseas development assistance when these great crises need so much attention at this time?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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The noble Lord speaks with great humanity and compassion, but I perhaps need to give a bit of perspective. I am not sure if our UK aid budget is enough to solve all the problems that he describes. The UK remains extremely committed to international aid. In the Covid epidemic and recession, we have reduced our commitment in a small way and have promised to revisit it at a later date. That commitment is very clear, and we will do that in due time.

Covid-19: Response

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Bethell
Tuesday 19th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell
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It will be for others to decide whether an inquiry is necessary. For my part, I am enormously proud of the Government’s response and the NHS’s response to Covid-19, and I stand full square behind the decisions and actions we have taken.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I welcome the fact that in the Statement it is clear that the Chief Medical Officers of the four nations of the United Kingdom agreed jointly to amend the identifiable symptoms for Covid-19. That stands in stark contrast to the mixed messaging of the weekend of 10 May and the days thereafter. What action have the Government taken since 10 May to ensure that the next round of announcements by the Prime Minister and the three First Ministers are more coherent and better co-ordinated in the interests of not only a clear public health message across the United Kingdom but the economic recovery that we will need in all four nations afterwards?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell
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My Lords, we work extremely closely with the devolved Assemblies, the four CMOs and the four nations to have a consistent four-nations approach to Covid. We very much welcome Nicola Sturgeon’s support for this consistent approach.