As it emerged yesterday the call for people over 70 to remain at home for three to four months apart from daily walks raises a great number of challenges. The first of these in a public sense is what about the Queen and her Son who are both over 70. Then there are at least 14 MPs who are over 70 and a large number of members of the House of Lords. There will also be some Councillors and no doubt many town and parish councillors over 70. Then there is the issue of who will visit them to deliver food and indeed who will visit them to check up on them. How will they get to the bank and the post office if they live more than a walk away. I spent some time yesterday talking to someone who I work with every week who happens to be over 70. His view is that he is actually very healthy and sees that there is no point in adopting such an approach, however his wife is very sensitive to health conditions and if he is ever affected by virus type matters he will sleep in his caravan to ensure she is unlikely to be impacted. I have other friends who are over 70 and regularly look after the children who are part of their family. Such an arrangement works well for all of the people impacted. A short break from this may be ok for some families and more challenging for others. And then as I discussed this yesterday what about any people over 70 who offer to come back to work in the health industry? Also what about the over 70 workers in Supermarkets etc?
Another set of proposals are an encouragement for people to work from home. It is clear that builders cannot do this, or electricians, nor Police Officers or Nurses or Social Workers. What about MPs and members of the House of Lords and Councillors and indeed Civil Servants? Indeed as MPs such as Caroline Ansell are not holding sessions with her constituents do we need full time MPs? Such calls will work very well for some companies and some industries and will be a real challenge for others. If Universities such as Sussex can close their doors what about Schools if they were given the same technology? and will this be permanent? Also what will the cost of doing a degree change to? Unfortunately if there is a serious drop in the transport demands from some settings, the ability for others to get to work becomes much more of a challenge. Perhaps one of the positive elements is that if this carries on for some time the need for extra roads or SMART Motorways and an extra airport or at least a runway will be ended!
If the decision for 70 year old MPs to stay at home and indeed for the other MPs to work from home, perhaps by voting using digital systems and to debate using video conferencing technology, and certainly for the House of Lords then of course the site of the Palace of Westminster and all of the London Homes for MPs and Ministers could be sold or used to offer housing to homeless people? It is useful for the MPs who will be staying away from Westminster possibly this weekend get mentioned. I may have missed one or two out but they include:
Peter Bottomley, Bill Cash, Roger Gale, George Howarth, Barry Sheerman, Margaret Hodge, Bob Stewart, David Evennett, Jack Dromey, Graham Stringer, Christopher Chope, Margaret Beckett, Virendra Sharma, David Davis.