Debates between Lord Krebs and Lord True during the 2019 Parliament

Thu 21st Jul 2022

Heatwave Response

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord True
Thursday 21st July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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As ever, the noble Viscount speaks wise words. I shall take back what he said. The reality is that, despite the pressures that there were in various places, the NHS emergency call handlers dealt with record numbers of calls to 999. All those public servants involved have done an outstanding job. One thing that helped was that the advance warning process worked very well, and people were able to prepare. Indeed, the weather forecasters take a bit of a pasting in this country—it is a favourite pub conversation—but I think that they did pretty well on this occasion, enabling everyone to be put on the right footing. However, I agree with the noble Viscount that there are issues that do not necessarily always come to the forefront, and all of them must be swept in and considered as we prepare for future similar events. I have no doubt about that.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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My Lords, according to climate change risk assessment evidence produced by the Climate Change Committee every five years, up to 90% of hospital wards in this country are at risk of overheating, because they are not designed for the kind of weather that we are going to get in future. Could the Minister tell us how many of the 40 new hospitals that the Government have committed to build by 2030 will be built in a way that is resilient to extreme heat?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, I can hear some chuckling about the 40 new hospitals, but I have no doubt that those facilities will be built and must be built. Setting the chuckling aside, the serious question put by the noble Lord is one that I shall take away and seek advice on. Obviously, it is not my department that is supervising that, but the noble Lord makes an important point, and I shall report back to him on it.

We must be responsive to the challenge of climate change. However, we must not forget that there are other challenges at the other end of the spectrum. We also need to continue to protect elderly people against the effects of cold in winter. It is very easy to obsess about extreme heat now, and rightly so, but other dangers also lurk in the natural world that we inhabit.