On Tuesday in the House of Commons the Government was being asked questions about the provision of the three tier approach as we were due to come out of national lockdown yesterday (Wednesday). One of the first questions came from the MP for Workington, Mark Jenkinson. His question will have resonate with a significant number of people inside and outside of Parliament. The answer brought out the reference to granulation and so it is very clear that Johnson wants to act in a way that will treat our nation in a granular way. Given the image of England shown here it would appear that his efforts at the current time is anything other than being granular. So what will it take to ensure that our future arrangement which I have heard from one local MP will be reviewed in a week or so’s time will look as though granulation has been applied.
MJ: My constituency sits entirely within the Borough of Allerdale, where our rates have declined to just over 70 per 100,000, and we are due to enter tier 2 restrictions. Will the Prime Minister commit to a more local tiering system, so that the hard work of my constituents is rewarded?
BJ: Yes, indeed. This is a point that many of my hon. and right hon. Friends have made to me and to the Government with great force and eloquence over the past few days. We want to be as granular as possible as we go forward to reflect the reality and the human geography of the epidemic, and we shall be so.
So the next person to ask a question was Tan Dhesi who is the Labour MP for Slough which is an area that did not get included on a number of maps but apart from Kent and the area around Bristol, Slough appears to be the only part of the Southern part of England in tier 3. In one sense this does appear to demonstrate that one small granulation has appeared across the whole of the nation as the rest appear to be blocks with the exception of the Isle of Wight. In his response to the Slough question Johnson goes on a bit further
BJ: I want to repeat the answer that I gave to my hon. Friend Mark Jenkinson, which is that, as we go forward—I mean this very sincerely —the Government will look at how we can reflect as closely as possible the reality of what is happening on the ground for local people, looking at the incidence of the disease, looking at the human geography and spread of the pandemic, and, indeed, looking at the progress that areas are making in getting the virus down. We will try to be as sensitive as possible to local effort and to local achievement in bringing the pandemic under control.
Then we get a challenge from Edward Leigh who points out that his edge of one of the blocks of tier 3 is a classic example. No doubt other people in parts of Kent or parts of the North West block would want to say the same.
EL: In the week up to 25 November, Market Rasen ward had six cases and is to go to tier 3; East Ham ward in London had 40 cases in that week and is to go into tier 2. What I want from my right hon. Friend is an absolute personal commitment that he and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will look personally at the case of Lincolnshire and do their level best to get us out of tier 3 by Christmas.
The response from Johnson explained about the periods to be used for the next few months regarding tier approaches.
BJ: Indeed, I can certainly give my right hon. Friend that assurance: we will look in as much granular detail as we can at the incidence throughout the country. These points have been made with great power by Members from all parties. We will review the allocation of tiers every 14 days, starting on 16 December.
Indeed the next person to challenge Johnson is Greg Clark referring to Tunbridge Wells. So then we get a response from a Labour MP who is referring to Chesterfield and the response from the Prime Minister appears to be calling for help from their party.
BJ: I do think it is extraordinary that in spite of the barrage of criticism that we have, we have no credible plan from the Labour party. Indeed, we have no view on the way ahead.
So let us hope that Labour will be invited along with local groups of MPs to help clarify what the granularity will look like for the next set of tiers to be announced ahead of the 16th December.