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A Public Inquiry into the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic published

26 November 2020

The Committee undertook the inquiry, following the Government’s confirmation that an inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic would take place, to investigate the options for its form and remit.

The report found that there was significant potential for a public inquiry to identify past mistakes and drive improvements in tackling the health, economic and social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, it warned that public trust must be secured from the outset by appointing a chair who is visibly impartial, and appointed through a process that is transparent.

If further called for the inquiry to be based on a set of guiding principles that clearly state the areas it will be examining and the questions it seeks to address.

Given the scale and breadth of the consequences of the pandemic on every aspect of society, it will be impossible for every area to be covered in a timely manner. Where issues fall outside of the scope of the inquiry, the Government should set out alternative mechanisms for scrutinising the UK’s performance.

Chair's comments

Following the Government’s response to the report, Committee Chair William Wragg MP said:

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to a public inquiry. While the Government has understandably decided to put all its effort into combatting the Covid-19 pandemic, and is yet to provide further detail on what a future public inquiry will look like, it is disappointing that they have not seen the value in laying some of groundwork now.

“The impact of the virus on public health, the economy and wider society will be long-lasting and a public inquiry has the potential to make real improvements in how we manage this existing emergency and prepare for future crises. By beginning preparations now, ensuring we have the support staff and administrative functions in place, the inquiry can begin work as soon as the leadership and terms of reference are decided.

“If we are to ensure that an inquiry is to provide more than simply lessons learned then timing is critical. Setting up key functions now will do much to enable this to happen.”

Further information 

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