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National Resilience

Volume 729: debated on Thursday 16 March 2023

Strengthening our national resilience is one of my personal priorities, and my Department continues to lead on this crucial work across Government. We identified seven immediate priorities through the resilience framework; of those, we have already published four. We will soon publish an updated national risk register. Since I last addressed the House, I have also chaired a dedicated resilience Sub-Committee of the National Security Council.

Our preparedness for national emergencies relies on our local resilience, too. In North Yorkshire, we have a high-functioning local resilience forum. Is my right hon. Friend ensuring that these local forums are all operating at the standards needed, and are integrated into our national resilience plans?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We work closely with all resilience forums, which are essential to our whole-of-society resilience approach to any emergency response. There are well-established processes for Government to liaise with local resilience forums to enable national and local integration. In addition, the 2022 resilience framework commits to strengthening local resilience forums, including through clearer accountability and assurance.

We all know how distressing it was for the relatives of people who died from covid to read the former Health Secretary’s leaked WhatsApp messages. There were some dreadful revelations about life and death decisions that were made, and about how they were made. The outcomes of the covid inquiry will be vital for learning lessons to strengthen national resilience—there could be another covid tomorrow. Will the Secretary of State confirm that all evidence from Ministers and former Ministers held on official channels, private emails and WhatsApps has been provided to the independent covid inquiry so that no more delays are caused by the Government?

I can give the hon. Lady that assurance. There has been total and full transparency from Government, as we are required to do under the terms of the Act and the relevant legislation.