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Lib Dems call for Keir Starmer to chair Commons committee grilling government’s Covid-19 response

Ed Davey said the Opposition leader should chair a special select committee on the pandemic response (PA)

2 min read

Keir Starmer should chair a special parliamentary committee to look at the Government’s coronavirus response, the leader of the Liberal Democrats has said.

Speaking on the BBC’s Westminster Hour, Sir Ed Davey called for the Labour leader to be handed the job of holding the Government to account through a new cross-party Commons group.

And he suggested the UK could follow New Zealand’s example.

He said: “I think you look at what happened in New Zealand where they set up a special select committee on coronavirus chaired by the leader of the Opposition. 

“They were able to hold the government to account more effectively under these difficult circumstances and New Zealand, let’s face it, has done a lot better than the UK.”

He added: “So you know, I’d actually see Keir Starmer chairing a select committee with leaders of the other parties and some Conservative backbenchers. 

“And I think if we have that we could really, really ensure that the Government were both held to account and all the ideas could improve the Government’s policy so we could actually get on top of this far more quickly than we’ve been doing.”

Appearing on the same programme, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said ministers already felt "the beam of scrutiny" amid the pandemic.

“I’ve given evidence to select committees now on three occasions, twice remotely, once by the telephone which was a deeply unsatisfactory experience," he said.

The call for a new committee to look into the Government's Covid-19 response comes amid criticism of its efforts to get personal protective equipment to the frontline and claims that its new messaging on the nationwide lockdown lacks clarity.

The Government has also come under fire for a perceived lack of transparency during the pandemic.

Last week, it published the names of most members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the government on how to handle the pandemic, amid concern over the involvement of Number 10 adviser Dominic Cummings.

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