Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Launch a judge-led public inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic

There has been much debate about every aspect of the covid 19 pandemic and as such it is entirely right that a comprehensive public enquiry should review all the evidence from the end of 2019 right through to the delivery and effectiveness of the current vaccination program.

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No enquiry will be effective if requests for information are ignored. Accordingly, it is right that the enquiry should have wide-ranging judicial powers to order the production of all evidence requested with appropriate sanctions for non-compliance. That must include by definition total access to medical research papers, medical records at treatment centres and full access to supply contracts for testing and the supply of all services surrounding the covid 19 pandemic generally.

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Government responded

This response was given on 25 June 2021

On 12 May, the Prime Minister confirmed a statutory public inquiry, with full formal powers under the Inquiries Act 2005, will begin in Spring 2022.

On 12 May 2021, the Prime Minister confirmed that a public inquiry into Covid-19 will be established on a statutory basis and that it will begin its work in Spring 2022. The inquiry will be a thorough and fearless examination of the breadth of our response – to learn the lessons of the pandemic that will make a difference to the future.

The inquiry will be set up under the Inquiries Act 2005, the same statutory basis as other recent inquiries, such as the Manchester Arena attack and the Grenfell Tower fire. An inquiry established in this way has full formal powers, including the ability to compel production of relevant material and to take oral evidence in public under oath. Statutory public inquiries always have an independent chair, who may be a judge or another relevant expert.

The Government will announce the chair of the Covid-19 inquiry in due course.

Cabinet Office

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Other parliamentary business

MPs report on establishing a public inquiry into the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic

Last September the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (a group of MPs who look into issues relating to the UK constitution and civil service) published a report that looked at how a public inquiry into Covid-19 might be conducted.

The Committee recommended that:

  • An independent public inquiry should be established to consider the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The primary purpose of the inquiry should be to learn lessons and to make recommendations about how similar events can be better handled in future.
  • Steps to establish the inquiry should be taken immediately.
  • That proper consultation and deliberation be conducted before appointing an inquiry chair, and that this appointment should be subject to a pre-commencement hearing with the relevant select committee.

The Committee also concluded that it would be important for the inquiry to report in a timely fashion, and to make use of interim reports.

Read the full report:
https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/2448/documents/24313/default/

The Government responded to the Committee's report in November 2020, and confirmed that there would be "an independent inquiry at the appropriate time". The response stated that it would be premature to respond to each of the Committee's recommendations in detail at this stage, but that when decisions are made on these matters Parliament would be informed in the usual way.

Read the Government's response: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/3676/documents/35748/default/

What is the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee?

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee examines constitutional issues, and the quality and standards of administration provided by Civil Service departments. It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

Find out more on their website:
https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/327/public-administration-and-constitutional-affairs-committee/

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/CommonsPACAC

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

MPs debate covid-19 contracts and the public inquiry into the handling of the outbreak

Yesterday MPs debated covid-19 contracts and the public inquiry into the handling of the outbreak. This was an opposition day debate on a motion determined by the SNP.

You can watch the debate here: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/ade2cf37-b521-42b5-8791-0de7eae81468

And you can read a transcript of the debate here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-07-07/debates/2E39E8CD-42E7-4D05-A37B-8BC2943E9BB4/Covid-19ContractsAndPublicInquiry

What are Opposition Days?

Opposition days are days allocated in the House of Commons for the discussion of subjects chosen by the opposition (non-government) parties.

Find out more about Opposition days: https://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/opposition-days/

Petitions debate on Government contracts during the covid-19 pandemic

This Opposition Day Debate follows a debate scheduled by the Petitions Committee relating on Government contracts during the covid-19 pandemic, which was debated on Monday 21 June.

Find out more about the petitions debate here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/155921/mps-to-debate-a-petition-relating-to-government-contracts-during-the-covid19-outbreak/

MPs to debate report on establishing a public inquiry into the response to the Covid-19 pandemic

On Thursday 22 July, MPs will debate a motion relating to a report by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 'A Public Inquiry into the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic', and the Government’s response to that report.

Watch the debate: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/e9085c07-ac3b-43dd-9dbf-71911d435363

You can also read a transcript of the debate a few hours after it has finished: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-07-22

This will be a debate on the motion relating to the Committee's report. MPs may hold a vote on this motion at the end of the debate. You will be able to read the motion being debated on tomorrow's "Order Paper", which lists the business MPs consider each day. This will be published here: https://commonsbusiness.parliament.uk/2021-07-22

The debate will begin following a statement about a recent report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee on Post-Pandemic Economic Growth.

Find out more about how Parliamentary debates work:
https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/debates/

What did the Committee's report say

Last September the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (a group of MPs who look into issues relating to the UK constitution and civil service) published a report that looked at how a public inquiry into Covid-19 might be conducted.

The Committee recommended that:

  • An independent public inquiry should be established to consider the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The primary purpose of the inquiry should be to learn lessons and to make recommendations about how similar events can be better handled in future.
  • Steps to establish the inquiry should be taken immediately.
  • That proper consultation and deliberation be conducted before appointing an inquiry chair, and that this appointment should be subject to a pre-commencement hearing with the relevant select committee.

The Committee also concluded that it would be important for the inquiry to report in a timely fashion, and to make use of interim reports.

Read the full report:
https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/2448/documents/24313/default/

The Government responded to the Committee's report in November 2020, and confirmed that there would be "an independent inquiry at the appropriate time". The response stated that it would be premature to respond to each of the Committee's recommendations in detail at this stage, but that when decisions are made on these matters Parliament would be informed in the usual way.

Read the Government's response: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/3676/documents/35748/default/

What is the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee?

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee examines constitutional issues, and the quality and standards of administration provided by Civil Service departments. It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

Find out more on their website:
https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/327/public-administration-and-constitutional-affairs-committee/

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/CommonsPACAC

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

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