MPs call for the publication of the Covid-19 public inquiry interim findings before the next election
Cross-party MPs and Peers have said the promised public inquiry into the pandemic must publish its interim findings before the next general election, calling on the UK Government to urgently set out a timetable for the inquiry to begin.
In a new report the APPG on Coronavirus recommends that the government also sets up a new statutory body to oversee the implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations and test future pandemic preparedness.
The group is also calling for memorialisation arrangements to be launched in parallel with the inquiry, including a permanent memorial monument on Whitehall and an annual Covid Memorial Day.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus has called on the UK Government to urgently set out a timetable for the promised public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic to begin, stating that it is essential that the public inquiry publishes its interim findings prior to the next UK general election.
The Prime Minister has pledged to hold an independent public inquiry into the UK government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in this session of Parliament but concerns persist around if the government will work to keep any politically damaging outcomes from the inquiry undisclosed until after the next general election.
In a new report published today, the group of cross-party MPs and Peers asserted that the Government must set up a new statutory body to oversee the implementation of the public inquiry’s recommendations and probe UK pandemic preparedness in future.
The group also called for memorialisation arrangements to be launched in parallel to the public inquiry, including a permanent memorial monument on Whitehall and an annual Covid Memorial Day on March 23rd.
The report also recommends that the terms of reference of the inquiry should be determined by public consultation, with the public being continually informed on the progress of the inquiry. Both elements are essential, the APPG finds, to ensure public trust in the process.
Other recommendations in the report include:
- That the inquiry should compare the UK government’s response to that of other countries.
- That the inquiry be structured into sub-panels of experts feeding into the top-level panel, to ensure conclusions can be reached and recommendations made in a timely manner
- That sub-panels and the top-level panel produce interim reports and recommendations to ensure they are implemented without undue delay, rather than a single final report
In a recent poll undertaken by Number Cruncher Politics on behalf of March for Change, the secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, 62% said that the inquiry should report before the next general election with only 10% saying it’s findings should be published afterwards.
Layla Moran MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus said:
“The mishandling of the pandemic in the UK has resulted in one of the highest death tolls of any country, and also one of the deepest recessions. We owe it to all of those we have lost, their families and loved ones left behind, to find out what went wrong and why.
“Instead of obfuscating details and keeping voters in the dark, the government must implement our recommendations and prioritise public trust, by letting the public shape the inquiry’s terms of reference, as well as regularly informing the public on its progress so that they have answers before the next general election.”
Dr Dan Poulter MP, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus said:
“Over the last 12 months we have heard insightful, moving and crushing first hand testimony from people whose lives have been irrevocably changed by this pandemic and their evidence has informed these recommendations.
“Ministers owe it to them to take these recommendations seriously, to urgently set out a timetable for the public inquiry, and to commit to allowing the public to shape the terms of reference.
“This was a tragedy felt by the whole country and the whole country should have a say in how we find the truth of what went wrong.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus is conducting a cross-party parliamentary inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic and has so far held 27 hearings and made over 50 recommendations. The APPG brings together 74 MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, representing all four nations and every Westminster party.