Nicola Sturgeon has warned that it is “highly likely that cases of serious illness and death will rise in the weeks to come” if community transmission of coronavirus continues, emphasising how important it is for people to limit their interactions “as much as possible to stem that spread”.
At her media briefing, Scotland’s first minister said that there were 267 positive tests yesterday, along with one death, adding that “cases are rising and we absolutely can’t afford to be complacent about that”.
National Records of Scotland published its weekly report today, confirming five deaths mentioning Covid-19 on the death certificate between 7 and 13 September, two of which occurred in a care home and three in a hospital.
As at 13 September, a total of 4,236 deaths by this measure have been registered in Scotland.
The NRS also published analysis which found that, after adjusting for age, people in the most deprived areas were over twice as likely to die with Covid-19 than those living in the least deprived areas. People living in larger urban areas were over four times more likely to die with Covid-19 than those in remote rural locations.
At the briefing, Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish government’s economy secretary, said that she was writing again to the UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, asking him to extend the furlough scheme beyond next month.
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The SNP’s Martyn Day asks what Johnson will do to honour the promise he made last year to take a fresh look at the plight of the Waspi women.
Johnson says he will look at this.
And that’s it. PMQs is over.
Dehenna Davison (Con) asks if the government will take all steps necessary to cut crime.
Johnson says it will. It is recruiting more police officers and toughening sentences for serious offenders.
Stephen Doughty (Lab) says problems with testing in Wales originate in England. The government is incompetent. When will the PM get a grip?
Johnson says the opposition is being too negative. The system is continuing to improve. The average distance people have to travel is coming down. More people are being tested than in the rest of Europe. Labour just wants to score political points, he says.
Johnson says the government will work as hard as possible to remove the current restrictions. But to do that, people have to continue to follow the rules.
Rachael Maskell (Lab) asks if the government will extend the furlough scheme.
Johnson says he hopes she is not saying the existing scheme should just be extended. (She signals she isn’t – Labour says it wants to extended only for certain sectors.) He says the government will continue to look at creative ways of keeping people in work.
Steve Double (Con) asks about regional airports, which he says have been hit by the closure of Flybe.
Johnson says the government will continue to consider applications for public service requirements. And it will continue to consider the case for cutting air passenger duty, although he can’t make a commitment now, he says.
Joy Morrissey (Con) asks if the PM agrees the internal market bill will protect the UK.
Johnson says he could not have put it better himself.
(He probably did. It sounded like a question drafted in No 10.)
Ian Byrne (Lab) asks about food poverty, and if the government will write a right to food into law.
Johnson quotes the help being given to councils, and says a £9bn programme of welfare support has been introduced.
Selaine Saxby (Con) asks about the roll-out of full-fibre broadband in Devon.
Johnson says it is being rolled out for 70,000 households in Saxby’s constituency.
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Alistair Carmichael (Lib Dem) says Brandon Lewis said last week the internal market bill would break international law. Yesterday the advocate general for Scotland said Lewis was wrong. Today Lewis said the advocate general was wrong. Will the government publish its legal advice so we can know who’s right?
Johnson say the government does not publish its legal advice.
Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, says three-quarters of families with disabled children had their care support cut during lockdown. As the father of a disabled child, he has seen legal advice saying the government broke international law in the way the Coronavirus Act dealt with the rights of disabled people.
Johnson says he is not aware of these claims, but he will write to Davey about them.
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Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, says as a Telegraph columnist Johnson said devolution would allow the Scots to make their own laws while “freeloading” on British taxpayers. It was unjust, Johnson said. Does he still think that? And were should powers be held?
Johnson says there has been a massive devolution of powers. But the Scots voted to reject independence. Now they have the opportunity to vote for more devolution in the internal market bill, he says.
Blackford says the PM does not remember what he has written. And he does not know what is in the bill. Clause 46 allows Westminster to bypass the Scottish parliament. He claims Tory MPs know Johnson is incompetent and want him away by the time of the next election.
Johnson says he cannot tell from Blackford’s question whether he supports the union or not. He says the internal market bill will give the Scottish parliament a “surge” of powers in 70 areas.
Johnson says the government is allocating “considerable sums” for schools in the south-west of England.
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Rayner says we have the highest death toll in Europe. We are “staring down the barrel of a second wave”. And what was the top priority of the Covid war cabinet? Restoring grouse shooting. That probably suits the PM’s friend who paid for his holiday and owns two grouse estates. Is that really his top priority?
Johnson says Labour is raising issues that are “tangential” and scare stories. He says Rayner has not disputed the statistics he mentioned. He says the government is getting on with delivering its agenda, and defending the union. He says no one is in any doubt that this government is facing some of the most difficult dilemmas any government has had to face. But it is solving them thanks to the common sense of the British people. It is with their common sense that the government will succeed.
Rayner says the PM is saying it is the public’s fault. The next time someone drives from London to Durham it will be for a Covid test.
She turns to the issue of mothers having to give birth without their partners. Even worse, some have had to endure miscarriages. Will the PM meet to discuss this issue?
Johnson says Rayner is right to raise this. He understands the point, and agrees. He says health ministers will meet Rayner to discuss this.
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Rayner says just yesterday the chief executive of Care England said weekly tests for care home staff were not being delivered. Matt Hancock said it would take weeks to sort this out. But we don’t have weeks, she says.
Johnson says the government has delivered on the most through-going system in Europe. The number of tests has gone up to 240,000 per day. He quotes figures showing testing numbers are higher than Germany, France and Spain.
What has happened is that there has been “a huge, huge surge in demand”, he says.
People should follow the guidance.
Rayner says she welcomes what the PM says, but “get some skates on it”. The PM has put his faith on the moonshot. But on planet earth tests are not available. Do all care homes get weekly tests?
Yes, says Johnson, to the best of his knowledge. They should get weekly tests for staff, and tests every 28 days for residents.
There has been a colossal spike in the number of people trying to get a test, he says. Capacity has been increased. Four new labs are being built. He says he wants to get up to 500,000 tests per day by the end of October. He says the UK is testing more than any other European country.