Debates between Viscount Eccles and Lord Bethell during the 2019 Parliament

Covid-19: Vaccine

Debate between Viscount Eccles and Lord Bethell
Tuesday 12th January 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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Who can hold a torch to Professor Spiegelhalter and his analysis of the data? Although I did not hear him, I completely welcome his comments. I reassure the noble Baroness that enormous efforts are being put into the pharmacovigilance around this vaccine. Some of this is of a clinical and scientific nature, and it takes a while to read out. We have therefore put in parallel systems to get an early read-out on exactly the kinds of questions that she has asked.

Viscount Eccles Portrait Viscount Eccles (Con)
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My Lords, as an interest, I can report that Lady Eccles and I have both had two Pfizer jabs, three weeks apart. At the planned rate of 2 million vaccinations a week, there will be the equivalent of 1 million people being fully vaccinated, whatever the gap. There will also be a continuing critical path through this rollout, which is complex. It may start by being vaccines, which are the limiting factor, but it could become otherwise. Can we be assured by my noble friend that the NHS is fully prepared to identify and deal with the critical path? Can we also be assured that we will get clear and full information on progress, and about the actions being taken to maintain that progress?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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I congratulate my noble friend and Lady Eccles on their double vaccinations. It is one of the most heartening experiences of a pretty dreadful year to witness the rollout of this vaccination and the joy and reassurance it brings to those who have been vaccinated. I reassure my noble friend that the NHS is absolutely putting the resources in place not only to roll out the single and second vaccinations to everyone over 18 who will step up for those but also for the pharmacovigilance to ensure that any adverse effects are recorded through the Yellow Card scheme and that those records are analysed and acted upon so that any changes or tweaks, as sometimes happen, are enacted by the NHS to get the best possible outcome for as many people as possible.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Viscount Eccles and Lord Bethell
Monday 14th September 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Viscount Eccles Portrait Viscount Eccles (Con)
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My Lords, last week I pursued the question as to whether there were precedents for using emergency powers under an old Act—this is an Act from 1984—and also whether the Government had any plans to change the procedure to one that is more like what we have come to expect over many years, so that we debate these regulations before they came into force. Many of the questions that are asked would be much sharper if the debate was before the regulations came into force. It would be better, because the future is more interesting than the past—and doubly so in these hybrid days, when debate is not as easy as it is in normal circumstances. Indeed, one reason for thinking that we should change is that there must be an impression that the Executive are riding roughshod over us, when what is actually needed is consensus—as has been indicated by the two Front-Bench speeches today—and I think that consensus is available. Will the Government have another think, decide it is better to be in front and implement some changes that will make Parliament’s job easier?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for his comments, but my perspective is slightly different. The fact is that this disease is incredibly aggressive and nimble; we sometimes have to turn decisions around literally within hours. I cannot think of another situation, other than war, where the decision-making has to be quite so quick. I would love to be able to bring regulations to this House for full debate in advance of their implementation, but no human institution can move at that kind of speed—it is just not possible. In answer to his question, we have no plans to switch horses at the moment. We are working as hard as we can to bring regulations here as quickly as we can, and I pay tribute to the House authorities for doing everything they can to put regulations in front of the House as quickly as they can.

Covid-19: Response

Debate between Viscount Eccles and Lord Bethell
Monday 27th July 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell [V]
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The noble Baroness is entirely right that track and trace on its own, with or without an app, is not enough to prevent a second wave. The only thing that can do that is the behaviours of the British people themselves. Commitment to hygiene, distancing and isolation is the best bulwark we have against this horrible disease. In terms of community testing, given the current level of technology, mass testing of the entire nation on a weekly basis is beyond the resources of our technology, testing capabilities and, frankly, the tolerance of the British people. However, as I said in answer to an earlier question, the technology is moving incredibly quickly. It has already moved a long way in the last few months, and I am hopeful that technologies such as—but not only—the OptiGene technology may offer new opportunities. However, they have to be validated, invested in and developed: they are not on the near-term horizon.

Viscount Eccles Portrait Viscount Eccles (Con)
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My Lords, I am sure my noble friend is well aware of the importance of the use of language in Statements and careful use of language. Given the importance of the working relationships between national and local authorities, will my noble friend expand on the assertion that the new powers delivered last Saturday will enable local authorities to “act with more vigour”? It seems a strange phrase to me, and I would welcome some expansion on how those relationships are going.

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell [V]
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My Lords, the relationship with local authorities is extremely good, and I recommend that noble Lords do not believe everything they read on this subject. I completely commend those who work closely with PHE, the test and trace programme, the joint biosecurity team and all the sectoral parts of government that reach out to local authorities, DPHs and local infection teams. A very strong bond is forming, and we have a very large number of outbreaks up and down the country that you never read or hear about, and which are not celebrated either for being good or bad because that partnership works well. The intelligence and data are put into the hands of the people who need them, and the teams move quickly and effectively to deal with the outbreak. I am extremely grateful for this; a huge amount of progress has already been made, and we continue to invest in those relationships.