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What form should a Covid-19 public inquiry take?

21 July 2020

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee holds an evidence session on Thursday 23 July to examine options for the formation of a public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The session is part of the Committee’s wider inquiry into the Government’s response to Covid-19 and the Coronavirus Act.

Purpose of the session

The Committee will be taking evidence from chairs and members of the most prominent public inquiries undertaken in the UK in recent times, including the Butler Review of Intelligence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Chilcott Inquiry, Northern Ireland’s Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry and the Mid Staff NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry. The session will examine the strengths and weaknesses of various options for the constitution of a Covid-19 inquiry based on the experiences during these recent prominent inquiries.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on 15 July, Boris Johnson confirmed that the Government was committed to holding an independent inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic. This session will investigate what form such an inquiry should take. This will include the scope of any inquiry’s remit, whether it should be wide-ranging or focus on specific sectors such as health or the economy, and the comparative benefits of comprehensive detail against timely publication. It will also investigate what powers the inquiry should have, including if it should be statutory, what membership an inquiry could have and to whom the inquiry should report.

Witnesses

Thursday 23 July 2020

At 9.30am:

  • Emma Norris, Institute for Government
  • Dr Alastair Stark, University of Queensland
  • Jason Beer QC

At 10.30am:

  • Lord Butler of Brockwell, Chair, Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction (“The Butler Review”)
  • Baroness Prashar, Committee member, Iraq Inquiry (“The Chilcott Inquiry”)
  • Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair, Mid Staffs NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry
  • Dame Una O’Brien, Former Permanent Secretary for the Department of Health and Panel Member, Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright