Oral Answers to Questions

Catherine McKinnell Excerpts
Monday 4th May 2020

(4 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Christian Matheson Portrait Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Lab)
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What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on large-scale testing and tracing for covid-19.

Catherine McKinnell Portrait Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) (Lab)
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What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on large-scale testing and tracing for covid-19.

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Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Clearly there are very strict protocols that surround any kind of procurement or pilot that might take place across any Government Department. Those protocols have given us confidence in the past, and there is no reason why they should not in the future. If the hon. Gentleman has concerns, he should raise them with the relevant Minister and certainly with the Cabinet Office, but those protocols are strong and have stood us in good stead; we have transparency around these issues.

Catherine McKinnell Portrait Catherine McKinnell [V]
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I am pleased that the Government recognise the importance of testing and tracing to contain the virus. It is just one of the issues that we need to get right before we can safely reopen schools. Headteachers in my constituency are really struggling to support vulnerable pupils, particularly with free school meal vouchers, because the system used by the Government’s chosen provider, Edenred, is not fit for purpose. Will the Government get a grip on this urgently, to ensure that our children at least are fed?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt [V]
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The hon. Lady is right that ensuring that we have the right testing and the right volume of testing in place is one of the five criteria for our being able to reopen society and ease lockdown measures. I know that there have been issues with the voucher system, and the Department for Education has been looking at that. If there any remaining issues in her constituency that she would like to flag up with me, I will take them up with the Department for Education.