COVID (Coronavirus) in Scotland inquiry launched
12 May 2020
The Scottish Affairs Committee launches an inquiry into COVID in Scotland and the effectiveness of the four-nations approach in tackling the pandemic.
Evidence session with the Secretary of State for Scotland
The inquiry will commence with an evidence session with the Secretary of State for Scotland on Thursday 14 May at 14:30. It will then hear from health officials, UK and Scottish scientific advisors, the Scottish Government and key sectors in Scotland.
The four-nations approach set out how the UK Government and devolved administrations would work together to manage the pandemic, and how the public can support these policies. The inquiry will examine how it has worked in practice in Scotland.
Although there has been a high degree of cooperation, there have been some differences in policy pursued by different Governments. This week the Scottish and UK Governments’ diverged in their approach to easing restrictions around lockdown.
The Scottish Government decided to stick with “stay at home” advice, whilst the UK Government moved towards a “stay alert” message. The inquiry will explore the implications of divergence particularly around the easing of restrictions.
Impact on vital Scottish interests
The inquiry will also look at the virus’ impact on vital Scottish interests including the economy, immigration, oil and gas, and the food and drink industries.
Pete Wishart MP, Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee said:
“The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest public health issue that Scotland has ever confronted taking its toll on individuals and businesses nationwide. The UK Government and devolved administrations came together to confront this crisis and the 4 nations approach has been the foundation of how the pandemic has been tackled. Our inquiry will scrutinise how this four-nation approach has operated and examine its effect on operational issues in Scotland.
As we consider leaving lockdown we will examine the increasing divergence in policy and messaging and consider what impact this will have on the Scottish public.
Our inquiry on Coronavirus and Scotland will address these concerns, assessing the assumptions around the design of the Action Plan taking expert advice and evidence from all sectors in Scotland. We will also be looking at support arrangements from the UK and Scottish Governments for businesses and key sectors.”
The Committee invites written evidence to be submitted here on the following issues:
- How effective has the four-nations’ approach been in tackling the coronavirus pandemic? What improvements could be made to formal intergovernmental structures, such as the Joint-Ministerial Committee, in light of the pandemic?
- To what extent has the Four Nations’ Action Plan (published 3 March) been fit for purpose? How was it designed, and did it reflect the right balance of expert advice?
- How will the UK Government’s ‘stay alert’ message, announced on 10 May, impact Scotland? How effective was the coordination between UK and Scottish Governments, and their respective advisory groups, in relation to the ‘stay alert’ message?
- What implications are there for divergence in UK and Scottish Government policy in tackling the pandemic? Should there be further divergence between nations in easing lockdown restrictions?
- Have the UK’s funding package and support schemes been sufficient in supporting Scottish businesses, employees and self-employed people in Scotland? Have they been able to reach all sectors in Scotland?
- Has UK and Scottish Government policy around key workers been effective? What further policy changes are required to support: a) seasonal workers; b) social care workers; and c) other key workers?
- What more could the UK and Scottish Government do to ensure that Scottish key workers have been able to gain access to personal protective equipment (PPE)?
- How has the Coronavirus pandemic impacted a) the oil and gas industry in Scotland; b) the Scottish food and drinks industry; and c) the rural economy? What support ought to be provided by the UK and Scottish Governments?
- Have there been particular Scottish issues relating to coronavirus that have not been addressed by a Government response?