The West Country Debate October: Covid resurgence, COP26 & MPs' safety

  • Watch October's edition of The West Country Debate

The tragic death of the Conservative MP Sir David Amess has shaken Westminster. It has raised questions around how we talk about our elected officials and whether we should rethink their security. But it has also united politicians who have paid tribute to his wonderful work as an MP and who agree democracy must go on.

On the panel for September's edition of The West Country Debate:

  • Thangam Debbonaire MP, Labour, Bristol West and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

  • George Eustice MP, Conservative, Camborne & Redruth and Environment Secretary

Coronavirus resurgence

The latest coronavirus rates show the South West has returned to the top of the regional table of infections, almost double the UK average, with Bath and North East Somerset having the highest rates in the country.

The head of NHS England has warned the UK is in for 'a very tough winter'.

George Eustice said: "Even though the infection rates are going up, yes we are seeing hospitalisations going up a bit and deaths, sadly, going up. But it remains at a very low level. What we need to make sure is that whenever people are eligible they get the booster jab."

Thangam Debbonaire said: "We need to make sure people are able to get the vaccines that they need. There are a few problems with people getting their booster doses at the right time. There's a bit of confusion which needs to be cleared up. There's also a question about what happens with the clinically vulnerable and their third jab."

UN climate change summit COP26

The Prime Minister has said that 'climate change is a bigger threat than covid'.

The Government has pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and has announced, as part of a wider strategy, for us all to eventually install heat pumps in place of gas boilers. It comes with 10 days left before the UN's climate change summit COP26.

Glasgow will host the COP26 summit next month. Credit: PA

The co-founder of Extinction Rebellion said: "I think what the British public needs to understand is that there is no bigger issue facing humanity. Our systems that support life on earth are breaking down. We have leaders that are leading us over a cliff and the announcements are paltry."

George Eustice MP said: "If the charge is that the UK is not leading by example, I completely reject that charge. We are setting ambitious targets, investing in them and hitting those targets. We have reduced our carbon emissions by more than 40% since the early 1990s principally through de-carbonising our electricity with offshore wind. We have to give people belief that we can do this."

Thangam Debbonaire MP said: "I am incredibly proud that the world's first Climate Change Act was passed under a Labour government. Labour would spend £28 billion per year for climate change investment. This needs to be done now."

Carla Denyer MP, Co-leader of The Green Party, said: "The number one policy we're pushing for is a carbon tax. Just 100 companies have been responsible for three quarters of the world's greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. So really it is the big polluters that need to pay for the damage that they are doing."

MPs' security

Allowing all of us a chance to meet our MPs face to face and tell them what we think is one of the corner stones of of British democracy.

When our politicians are in Parliament they are protected by layers of security including armed guards but when they leave that protection disappears. 

The killing of Southend MP Sir David Amess last Friday in his constituency surgery has raised fresh questions about how safe our MPs are.

MP Sir David Amess was killed at a surgery in his constituency earlier this month. Credit: PA

Thangam Debbonaire said: "I don't think for one moment that the risks I take are anyway near comparable to the police for example. But I think the majority of the public want us to be accessible to them. People have got in touch to say they like arguing with us!"

George Eustice MP said: "I've experienced protesters before but I haven't felt my safety was at risk. I agree with Thangam, in the last week I've had a huge number of kind emails. I think we need to remain accessible."