Coronavirus (COVID-19) inquiry ‘should be established at the appropriate time

Coronavirus (COVID-19) inquiry ‘should be established at the appropriate time

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) has published the government’s response to its report produced following a public inquiry into the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In its response to the report the government notes that the PACAC makes detailed recommendations on the independent inquiry’s eventual terms of reference, but that owing to the fact that the government is ‘focused entirely on responding to the pandemic and saving lives, particularly as the country is experiencing a second wave of the virus’, it would ‘be premature to respond to each of these recommendations in detail at this stage’. Indeed, the government agrees overall that an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic ‘should be established’ but ‘at the appropriate time’.

Chair of the PACAC, William Wragg, 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.’

He added: ‘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.’

Sources:

• A Public Inquiry into the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic: Government’s response to the Committee’s Fifth report

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

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