Chris Chope one of the 35 MPs to vote against the extension of the Coronavirus Act.
Please read his speech below, following on from Sir Graham Brady.
It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Sir Graham Brady. I thank him for his leadership in the campaign that so many of us support, trying to ensure that some common sense and proportionality are brought to this debate and that we have our freedoms back, because we should not have them taken away from us unless there is the most compelling justification.
As my hon. Friend said, this is also an issue of trust. The Government are using the slogan “data not dates”, but the data is either being withheld or ignored. I have been regularly looking at the so-called coronavirus dashboard. Suddenly, when the data got rather good from my perspective but bad from the Government’s perspective, it disappeared. The latest data on the dashboard for hospital admissions in Dorset goes back to 11 March, so I had to make my own inquiries, and I found out that within the last week, there have only been three hospital admissions in all the hospitals throughout Dorset. We have 1,200 beds in our hospitals, and we have a population of over three quarters of a million people. That data does not tell me that it is reasonable that we should continue to have a lockdown and that people should be deprived of their social and economic liberty. One of my constituents who is very good on these things wrote to me saying that 5,000 cases from 1.9 million tests shows that 99.993% of the population were unaffected. That is what we are talking about in terms of proportionality.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 extend to 94 pages. How do the Government believe that we can support the regulations when there is not even an impact assessment for them? If there was an impact assessment, it would point out that every day those regulations remain in place is costing the economy about £1 billion—£1 billion a day. We can get a lot of for £1 billion, and if a cost of £1 billion a day is being incurred, there certainly needs to be a lot more justification than the Government have so far adduced during this debate.
I expect that people will increasingly take the law into their own hands as they see that there is no risk in going out and meeting in the open, as was confirmed in evidence to the Science and Technology Committee, and that there are very few risks associated with social mixing with people who are already vaccinated. The Government have got it completely wrong on risk assessment. My advice to the Minister would be to go and get some risk assessment therapy during the Easter break and then come back with some new ideas in April. He should reflect on the adage that the welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants. That, in essence, is what this debate is about, and that is why I shall be voting against these measures.
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To read the full debate CLICK HERE