Chris Green MP: We need to be able to challenge ministers

There is one rule for us and another for you! Oops, just had an update and, due to bad publicity, the Parliamentary authorities have decided to close our bars at the same time as those across Wigan and much of the rest of England.
Chris Green MPChris Green MP
Chris Green MP

I thought it was extraordinary that Parliament’s bars and restaurants would still be able to serve alcohol after 10pm when the rest of the country was in lockdown but the authorities have heard the chorus of condemnation and they have reversed their decision.

On the face of it, people will say that it is Members of Parliament misbehaving but, whether it is MPs or Peers, politicians do not decide these rules and we were as shocked and outraged as you were.

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The Palace of Westminster is a workplace and does need canteen facilities until late in the evening for all of the 10,000 people who normally work there but we should not have special privileges on top.

I fear that people are increasingly looking back to the pre-lockdown era as one of amazing privilege and freedom as we see more extreme restrictions imposed.

Whilst the Labour leader, Keir Starmer MP, has said that he completely backs the Prime Minister’s decisions on the Covid lockdown – something that I suspect Jeremy Corbyn MP would never commit to – I am increasingly concerned about the impact it is having.

Normally, in fact invariably, medical treatment is there to protect or improve the health of the person receiving it.

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Ethically, it is wrong to treat one person to improve the health of another unless there is consent.

The fluoridisation of water is a famous example where, in certain areas, everyone’s water has a chemical added to it for the sake of those who do not brush their teeth.

To tackle Covid-19 the whole country has been put in various levels of lockdown and this has so far failed to eliminate the transmission of this disease.

This failure is hardly surprising and is far removed from the initial aim of “flattening the curve”.

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We saw what was happening in Italy where the intensive care units were being overwhelmed and we took action to ensure that it would not happen here.

We had a great success but, before we knew it, the policy had changed to a target of eliminating a disease that is now endemic – just like the common cold and influenza.

A variety of different viruses make up the common cold such as rhinovirus, influenza and coronavirus. Since strains of the common cold are a form of coronavirus and we have never managed to get that down to zero transmission so how can we be certain that we can control the Covid-19 strain?

We cannot so we have to live with and manage it. We need to protect the most vulnerable in care homes, hospitals and those isolating at home but we have to let the rest of society return to normal.

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We need people to be trusted to make informed decisions about their own health rather than have them threatened by the police or with huge fines.

It has got so bad that students beginning university cannot attend lectures, mix with other students or even go home at Christmas without providing an approved excuse.

It seems that Christmas is already cancelled for many students but will it be cancelled for the rest of us?

The Government should be providing regular updates on the science behind what they are doing and should be open to Parliamentary debates.

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MPs would then have an opportunity to challenge Ministers and get them to explain their understanding.

Any flawed logic or unsubstantiated assertions would quickly become exposed and policy change would then follow.