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Covid-19: Medical Supplies

Volume 675: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2020

What steps he is taking to ensure that procurement of (a) personal protective equipment, (b) medical appliances and (c) testing kits in response to the covid-19 outbreak operates effectively between the UK and Welsh Governments. (901912)

The UK and Welsh Governments are working together closely to make sure that Wales gets the PPE, appliances and testing kits it needs. So far more than 3.4 million PPE items have been delivered to Wales. I speak to the First Minister regularly in relation to this and the use of the armed forces.

Eight hundred companies in Wales are now in touch with the Welsh Government to help to supply critical PPE and other supplies, including a major manufacturing firm in my constituency. Like many other Welsh firms, they want to help across the UK and use the strength of our Union, so why has it taken the same firm over two and a half weeks to get an answer back from the UK Government, with as yet no order placed and only after an intervention by me? Will the Secretary of State work with me to unblock that unacceptable delay?

Of course I will work with the hon. Gentleman, who has been constructive throughout this crisis. The Department of Health and Social Care and others have had a mountain to climb in relation to this and the many very kind offers they have had, but if there are administrative gaps that we need to fill, I will of course take up individual concerns where relevant.

In the absence of a vaccine or cure, large-scale testing and contact tracing will be essential tools in tackling coronavirus. In recent days, we have seen a Welsh Health Minister rip up his own testing targets, key people in my local health authority have told me they were not cited on the Deloitte plans for rolling out regional testing centres and there is no real evidence of contact tracers being recruited. Can my right hon. Friend tell me therefore who is actually running the test strategy in Wales—the UK Government, the Welsh Government or Deloitte? Furthermore, what assurances can he give that we have a clear plan based on the science, and that that remains at the heart of everything we are doing in Wales?

That was three questions rolled into one. Being driven and guided by the science is absolutely the ongoing priority of the UK and Welsh Governments. As my right hon. Friend will know, being a former Secretary of State for Wales, the question of responsibility for the pilot and other testing schemes is a matter for the devolution settlement. If there is a lack of clarity there—the test centre he mentioned is rumoured to be situated in my own constituency—I will take it up with the First Minister in Cardiff.

We now come to questions to the Prime Minister. I will be running questions for 45 minutes and I will call the First Secretary of State to answer the engagement question. I welcome him to the Dispatch Box.