Brendan O’Hara – 2022 Speech on the Heatwave

The speech made by Brendan O’Hara, the SNP MP for Argyll and Bute, in the House of Commons on 20 July 2022.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and

I thank the Minister for prior sight of this statement.

Let me begin by paying tribute to those in all the emergency services who, once again, have gone above and beyond to help their fellow citizens in a time of crisis. Let me also extend our sympathy to the people whose homes and businesses have been destroyed in the fires that raged across parts of England.

We may not have known anything like this before, with record temperatures being set in three of the four nations of the UK and the symbolic 40°C barrier being broken in England, but, sadly, I predict that this—or something like it—is here to stay. We are all going to have to live with it, and Governments are going to have to prepare for it in the future. Climate scientists have been warning us for decades that this day was coming, and it would be disingenuous in the extreme for anyone to claim that it was a one-off freak event or dare to compare it with the summer of 1976. This is the climate emergency. This is exactly what we were told would happen if we did not change our ways. This is what COP26 was all about, and that is why those who are still part of the Tory leadership race cannot, and must not, renege on the commitment to achieving net zero in return for securing votes from the party’s base.

Can the Minister tell me where is the plan to increase and bolster resilience so that the Government’s response to the guaranteed future heatwaves is more co-ordinated and strategic than what we have witnessed on this occasion? Given the melting roads, buckling rail tracks and dissolving runways, what plans are being considered to make our critical infrastructure more resilient to this type of heat? Finally, does the Minister agree with me—and, I suspect, the vast majority of the country—that the optics of the Prime Minister’s decision to party while parts of the UK literally burned showed a complete lack of self-awareness and a complete dereliction of duty?