Below is the text of the speech made by Jane Hunt, the Conservative MP for Loughborough, in the House of Commons on 12 May 2020.
The people of the United Kingdom have done a great job in looking after our communities and our country during this difficult time. They have, in very large part, followed the rules on social distancing, which has enabled us to get to the stage where we can start to look at easing the lockdown and turn our focus towards economic recovery.
It is immensely sad that people have died during this outbreak, and my heart goes out to everyone who has lost a family member or friend to this dreadful disease. We should not forget a single life taken early, and we owe it to those people and our hard-working NHS and care workers not to allow the virus to rise up again.
In a Zoom meeting the other day, the CBI discussed the need to focus now on renewal and the idea of rapid recovery. The Bank of England monetary policy committee has also recently predicted a V-shaped economic recovery. That is something that we must strive to achieve, as it is only by ensuring that our industries are thriving that we will be able to maintain and create the jobs that people need to support their families and get ahead in life.
Unfortunately, it is inevitable that some businesses will not survive, and we must ensure that those that do can grow and take on those who now find themselves unemployed. Undoubtedly, the action that the Government have taken over the past decade to restore the health of the public finances has meant that we have been in a much better position to support businesses and their employees over the course of the first phase. I particularly thank the Chancellor, Her Majesty’s Treasury and HMRC, who have been working tirelessly to ensure that businesses and individuals have access to vital funding, which I know has been a lifeline for many.
The work of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, through local councils, has also been exemplary, with grants to support many of our small businesses, so that we can start up their operations once again with vigour. In the new discretionary grants, I would ask that small businesses in multi-tenancy buildings, and dentists, are also included in the scheme.
As a country, we have learned some notable lessons over the past couple of months, which need to be taken forward.
Many small businesses have been adapting their business models to meet the needs of the current climate and produce the goods and services in highest demand. These businesses will need to be agile again coming out of the lockdown, to capitalise on their strengths and meet the needs of the markets in the new normal.
The hard work and dedication of those businesses should not be forgotten: businesses such as JRE Precision in Loughborough, which made the decision early on to start making ventilator parts to ensure that the NHS has the equipment it needs to save so many lives; Tarmac, based at Mountsorrel Quarry, which donated PPE to our frontline workers; and shops such as Bradley’s in Quorn, whose hard work providing essentials for the local community should be rewarded for many years to come with patronage from local residents.
If we are to achieve a rapid recovery, we need to implement the right policies to ensure that all sectors can mobilise and ramp up activity as soon as possible, from farmers, who are the very backbone of our nation, to universities, which drive innovation and provide young people with the skills needed to support the economy tomorrow, and our largest home-grown businesses, which provide people with opportunities and generate huge amounts of revenue for the Exchequer. This is the best case scenario for our country, and I would ask that the Government continue the fantastic work they have done to date and do all they can provide a route for rapid recovery.