Since the announcement of new restrictions to control the spread of the Covid 19 virus to take effect from the 2nd December, I have discussed them with Parliamentary and Local Government colleagues and directly with the Secretary of State for Health, and considered carefully how I should vote on the regulations which would bring those changes into force.
As we emerge from the November nationwide measures, different areas will again be allocated to different tiers, with different levels of restriction. Unlike the pre-November period however, Warwickshire has been grouped with Coventry and Solihull, and will move from Tier 1 to Tier 3, the highest level of restrictions. I support the move away from uniform national restrictions towards a tiered structure, as it should allow restrictions more appropriate to local circumstances, but I remain of the view that the areas being assessed should be the smallest possible where accurate virus data is available. That would mean restrictions are no greater than they need to be to reflect local circumstances. I cannot support the grouping together of Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull for this purpose and I have made that clear both in the House of Commons and directly to Ministers. The size and diversity of this area means that high rates of virus prevalence in some parts of it will inevitably mean disproportionately high restrictions in other parts where rates are relatively low. I also note that more recent data indicates a lower case rate than the data used to make this decision, and I believe decisions should be made on the most recent data available.
That is not just an inconvenience. I am particularly concerned about hospitality businesses in parts of South Warwickshire I represent where virus rates do not support a Tier 3 designation, which are facing closure throughout the majority of the pre-Christmas period (until at least the first potential relaxation on 19th December). This is a hugely important period which many of these businesses were hoping would bring in revenue to compensate to some degree for the dreadful year they have had, and for some the loss of this revenue will be disastrous. I welcome the further support promised to some of these businesses, but it will not fully compensate them. I am being asked to support the imposition of tighter restrictions than local circumstances demand, with very serious economic consequences. I have supported all previous restrictions, painful as they have been, because I recognised they have been necessary to control the virus. I could not do so this time and accordingly I voted against the regulations which place Warwickshire in Tier 3.
You can watch my speech in the House of Commons here: https://www.facebook.com/JeremyWrightMP/videos/412419963228517