AS A follow-up to my recent article in TCW I have written this letter to my MP and suggest that other readers follow suit, tailored to their own member and his or her party. MPs will respond only to their own constituents, so please find your representative and contact them as per the information on TheyWorkForYou.
Dear Jess Phillips
Request for urgent questions in Parliament re HMG’s coronavirus strategy
As one of your constituents I request that you ask questions in Parliament – and encourage colleagues to do so – about the frequency of Parliamentary reviews of arrangements to deal with the Covid outbreak.
As you know, the country has suffered the most enormous and costly disruption to normal life for over a year and yet reviews are scheduled at six-monthly intervals, the last having taken place on March 25. I hope you will agree that the Opposition needs to do much more to challenge the Government, since information is changing all the time about the virus, measures to combat it and most especially the associated human and financial costs.
This may be of particular interest to yourself because of the long and hard work you have done promoting the interests of less-advantaged women and their families, both as an MP and prior to that as a local councillor. People like these have been among the hardest hit by school closures, restrictions on movement and association with others etc.
In case you have not seen it, I enclose an excellent article by Professor Simon Wood of the University of Edinburgh, on the cost per life saved of governmental measures against Covid. His rough estimate is that these work out at some six to nine times the ceiling cost per Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Relevant to your political priorities is his point that poorer people have much less life expectancy and quality of health than richer people, and the cost of governmental Covid strategy would be repaid far more by addressing these inequalities.
This is why I urge you to press the Government to much more frequent and thorough reviews – in Parliament, skilfully challenged – of its coronavirus strategy. Had, for example, the Government chosen to use its powers under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, these reviews would be held at 30-day intervals (at the longest), with Parliament empowered to modify or cancel measures at any time.
I hope that this might be raised in Questions to the Prime Minister and the issues also aired by your Party wherever possible in the media.