The speech made by Alan Brown, the SNP MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, in the House of Commons on 29 November 2022.
Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
I am sure that many MPs on this side of the House had no idea that a VIP lane existed for PPE contracts, but even if I did know about a VIP lane for referring contracts, if a constituent came to me and said, “Alan, I have never worked in a PPE environment. I’ve never ordered it before, but I’ve got a great plan. I can order it from China. Just refer me to a Minister”, I would not have done that because it would be impossible to do proper due diligence. So it beggars belief that this Government accepted recommendations from companies with no involvement and no expertise in PPE contracts, and still awarded these billions of pounds of contracts. Instead of mediation with PPE Medpro, is it not the case that a full investigation is needed and, if the Government are not going to do it, surely we need a public inquiry into PPE procurement.
We are prepared to litigate whenever a company did not provide. There is a process, which I set out earlier. In many cases, there were people who did have important contacts in China and in other countries where PPE was being produced, and it was important to pursue all those leads because we needed to have that. But, to the hon. Gentleman’s point, due diligence had to be done and was done on all those cases in the same way. I have talked about the scale of the challenge and the 19,000 companies on which due diligence was initially done, and the huge drop-off between that number and the 2,648 companies that actually made it through that filter. So we can see in the difference between 19,000 and 2,648 that there was a huge amount of filtering done by the team of 400 people who were working so hard to try to get the PPE that we needed to the nurses and doctors in our NHS.