Yesterday in Parliament, the MP for Bexhill and Battle, Huw Merriman raised a very serious question in front of Jacob Rees-Mogg who is the leader of the House of Commons. The answer was even more radical than aspects of the question. My own view regarding the question is that to focus too closely on East Sussex in isolation from Brighton and Hove and West Sussex along with Kent has a number of challenges. It is certainly true that in next weeks adjustment from the national lockdown, that East Sussex will need to go to Tier 2 even though it has relatively low levels of COVID. However to call for a change just because Brighton and Hove and parts of West Sussex are facing slightly higher levels of COVID than the rest of East Sussex is bad enough in terms of the possible conflict. However given that at present Kent is going into Tier 3 will be even more of a challenge. If Huw and his neighbour Nusrat where to get their way, East Sussex would be in tier 1, the rest of Sussex would be in tier 2 and then Kent would be in tier 3. This would lead to very challenging issues for the business in East Sussex whose pubs and restaurants could become approached by people from West Sussex and Kent. In addition Sussex Police would face a series of challenges in working out where people were coming from. However the other challenge is for Jacob Rees-Mogg to deliver what he has stated he will. So here is the Question and Answer:
HM: Would it be possible for us to have an urgent debate on the manner in which the Department of Health and Social Care is determining which tiers apply for local coronavirus restrictions? We are told by the Department that our local health and local authority leaders have been consulted and have given their views on local data and trends, but the consultations that I have had with my local leaders in East Sussex reveal that not to be the case, which is a worry. My right hon. Friend was always a doughty defender of transparency when he spoke from the Back Benches; will he ensure that we get the same from Government Departments?
JRM: My hon. Friend undoubtedly raises an important point. It is vital that the Government make and implement all their coronavirus measures with public consent. Indeed, one of the remarkable things has been the extent to which the British people have voluntarily accepted the restraints and have not found it necessary to have them onerously imposed upon them. We will debate the statutory instruments next week, as I announced in my statement, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will be making a statement shortly. It is important to have the right balance between acting quickly and decisively while managing also to consult the necessary bodies.
So the question has to be when will local authorities and indeed public people be engaged with. It has not happened yet!