MPs Have Demanded To See The Evidence Behind Boris Johnson's New Three Tier System
Tory lockdown rebels have demanded the Prime Minister provide evidence of the health and economic justifications for the new three tier system.
Former chief whip, Mark Harper, Steve Baker MP, and 70 more Tories wrote to Boris Johnson at the weekend to ask for a cost-benefit analysis of restrictions.
They renewed their calls for more evidence in the Commons today as Johnson fielded questions on his new Winter Plan.
Harper, who leads the Covid Recovery Group of MPs, said he wanted to see the impact “each tier will have on dealing with Covid, the non-Covid health impacts, and also the impact on people’s livelihoods”.
He told the Commons he wanted to know that “each measure is going to save more lives than it costs.”
Johnson said he would meet with Harper and Baker to discuss the matter soon.
Chair of the Tory 1922 committee of backbench MPs, Sir Graham Brady, and another outspoken critic of restrictions, said: “I think the Secretary of State said he recognises the damage that is done by these restrictions.
“Will he go further and publish the government's assessment of what that impact is both in economic terms and in health terms?”
He said the government must publish the criteria for each region moving into a specific tier.
Rob Butler, MP for Aylesbury, asked the PM for reassurance them that any restrictions will be based on “truly local needs” backed up with “truly local evidence” so they can see for themselves why the action is needed.
Other backbench Tories had different concerns, including rules over Christmas and church attendance.
Sir Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough, said there has never been a “shred of evidence” that religious services have led to the spread of coronavirus.
“It’s the first time in 800 years that people have been prevented from going to church,” he said.
He also wanted reassurance about Christmas carols, so it won’t be a “silent night” around the festive period.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said restrictions had to be brought in to keep people safe.
Some of the fiercest criticism came from Democratic Union Party MP Sammy Wilson, who said the policy was “a wrong track” and alarming, and people should be alarmed that freedoms were being decided by ministers.
He said: “This will still deny people a right to earn a living, will drive millions into poverty and will still instil fear and that should indicate this policy is a wrong track.”
Papers released today by scientific experts cast doubt on the effects of the previous tiered system, particularly the third tier.
The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) - a sub-group of the government's Sage group - reported on November 11: "There is a great deal of uncertainty about the effect of tiers, particularly tier 3. The implementation of tier 3 restrictions differed across the country with many places having measures beyond the “baseline”tier 3."
They suggested a tier 4 might be needed to "prevent the epidemic from growing".