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Covid-19 Booster Vaccinations

Volume 706: debated on Wednesday 5 January 2022

3. What steps the Government are taking to support the roll-out of covid-19 booster vaccinations in Wales. (904897)

Booster vaccinations are absolutely critical in strengthening our defences. That is why I and the Secretary of State for Defence have made an additional 98 armed forces personnel available to support the vaccination programme in Wales. We have confirmed an additional £270 million that the Welsh Government can spend in advance of budgets being finalised at supplementary estimates.

Blwyddyn newydd dda, Mr Speaker. The personnel that the Secretary of State mentioned have been brilliantly organised from Army HQ Wales, which is based in Brecon barracks in my constituency, and I put on record again my thanks that the plans to close the barracks have been scrapped. The Army has been brought in three times to help us in Wales, most recently during the booster programme. The fact that we have a military assistance programme ready to support us in times of need is a strength of our Union, so will he continue to liaise with the Welsh Government to ensure that they have all they need to manage the pandemic?

Absolutely. My hon. Friend is right, and I cannot begin to tell the House how many times I have met members of the public in the past few months who have been filled with confidence and pride when they have arrived at a vaccination or testing centre to see representatives of the armed forces there to greet and look after them through that often quite difficult process. The comments that she makes are well received, and will be by the number of servicemen in her area. The answer to her question is emphatically yes. I note that the Welsh footprint of the MOD—the number of MOD personnel in Wales—has now increased as a result of recent MOD announcements, and that will make this job that much easier.

Over 75% of eligible adults in Wales have already had their booster, thanks in no small part to the fact that the Welsh Government have earned the respect and trust of the people of Wales due to the clear and consistent messaging throughout the pandemic. What lessons does the Secretary of State think that the Prime Minister and his Government could learn from the example set by the Labour Government in Wales?

That is a slightly cheap shot, especially in a week when, under Welsh Government guidelines, it seems that it is all right for people to go to a pub but not to their office. They can watch the rugby from the clubhouse but not from the touchline. They can go to a gym but they cannot partake in an outdoor activity such as parkrun. There is a huge number of mystifying and contradictory positions—the hon. Gentleman goaded me into that. The vaccine programme has to be one of the best examples ever of co-operation, not competition, between Governments. That has been absolutely essential and it has been done in a good spirit, with professionalism, and has been an enormous success.