Below is the text of the speech made by Bill Wiggin, the Conservative MP for North Herefordshire, in the House of Commons on 23 March 2020.
It is a pleasure to follow the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Robert Largan).
May I say to colleagues across the House that being angry with the public for what they are doing wrong is no way to proceed? In Fownhope in my constituency, a community that was hit very badly by flooding, we are seeing the most phenomenal community spirit and wonderful behaviour blossoming as people reach out to those who are lonely and self-isolating. Young people are writing to people in care homes to make sure that they feel valued. A wonderful sense of community spirit is shining forth. For me, that is worth so much more than being cross with people who may be getting their self-isolation or shielding wrong.
I want to talk about the most important thing we have here: our parliamentary accountability. That accountability is a baby worth saving no matter how toxic, dangerous or infectious the bathwater, so two years calls into question the advice the Government have been given. China has had 81,307 cases and 3,254 deaths, yet it has managed to shut down the disease in six weeks from its epicentre—a much more difficult task than we have—with flights still coming in from countries such as Iran three times a day. How is that possible when we are looking at such draconian legislation today?
It is not necessarily perfect legislation. Under clause 23, which relates to powers on food—I was naturally drawn to it—a person may be required to provide “relevant information” to the authority in subsection (1), and yet subsection (6) states:
“A requirement under this section may not be imposed on an individual.”
That does not look quite right, so perhaps the Government could look at that before Report.
In my last few seconds, I want to reiterate how much the public need to understand that what we are sacrificing, both economically and in terms of our freedom, is worth it if we are protecting the professionals in the health service, local authorities and all the caring services that are reaching out and providing the sort of community that we all hold so dear. I am seeing it every day in my constituency, and I want to make sure we never forget that it is the goodness of the British people that makes all these sacrifices worth it.