Monday, 19th June, 2023

[Day 1190]

Today we had an appointment at the eye clinic for Meg timed at a rather unfortunate time at 1.30 in the afternoon, so this rather dictated how the rest of the day panned out. This morning after we had breakfasted, we merely went out in the car to collect our newspaper and then made back home to have our elevenses in front of the TV. Later on today, we knew that there was going to be a debate in the House of Commons on the Privileges Committee report into the behaviour of Boris Johnson but we were not sure at what point in the day this was going to take place. What we did see, however, was David Cameron, the ex-Conservative Prime Minister giving his live evidence to the COVID committee of enquiry. This seems as though it is going to be quite a thorough affair as each significant person called upon to give evidence has already submitted a dossier of their own testimony and relative portions of this are then played back to the enquiry for further examination and commentary. All of this seems well and good except the Committee are going to take evidence for about three years and goodness knows when an official report will be written and then published. If lessons are to be learned, then one hopes that another pandemic or great national emergency does not strike us in the next few years. The Swedes can certainly teach us a thing or so because they have not only started but also concluded their own investigation into their government’s reponse to COVID before we have even started our own national investigations. So to manage today’s business, we had an early biscuits and cheese to act as a lunch for us and then set off in plenty of time to get to the hospital well in time. We managed to get parked quite easily which is no mean feat given the pressure that the hospital carparks are generally under and arrived in time for our appointment. Meg then needed to have two sets of opthalmic tests before these were fed through to the doctor who is monitoring Meg’s eye condition. The conclusion was that we need to persist with eye drops for the next three weeks and then we will have another appointment so that the monitoring can continue. All in all, our appointment slot in the hospital lasted for the best part of two hours which is better than the three and a half of last time. It was a beautiful afternoon and so we quickly drove home and teated ourselves to a strawberry trifle which we had left over from yesterday’s meal. This was a wonderful little treat to have on a hot summer’s day and I appreciated for once having some supplies left over from yesterday.

The debate on the Privileges Committee is starting late this afternoon and it looks as though the debate may be quite short but also a little bad tempered. Rishi Sunak had conveniently discovered another pressing commitment in his diary so that he can avoid either attending the debate or casting a vote which would commit him either to condemning Boris Johnson by voting to adopt the report or perhaps even condoning Johnson’s behaviour by deciding to abstain. The Tories are in a terrible bind about all of this because to the public at large, they must surely vote to endorse the report. But were they to do so, there are rumours that their constituency associations will try to deselect them as MPs if they vote to adopt the report. The debate is proceeding in rather a rancorous fashion and it is by no means certain that a vote will actually take place. The diehard Johnson supporters may seek to force a vote but to many centrist Tory MPs they just hope that Boris Johnson would just slink away and the easiest way to avoid adverse consequences from their constitutuents is just to abstain, as Michael Gove indicated that he was going to do when interviewed on the TV channels over the weekend.

Sky News this afternoon is showing a photograph of thousands of pieces of PPE that have been abandoned in a field in Hampshire. A report from the council meeting said the packs were discovered following an investigation by New Forest District Council into use of land at Little Testwood Farm Caravan Park. The interesting thing is that nobody knows how this equipment got there and whether it has been legally dumped (in which the local authorities ought to have known about it) or totally illegally dumped, in which case some waste disposal company has been taking the worst of short cuts. If the latter, one hopes that the firm are identified, made to clear up their own mess and finally given the most appropriate fines afforded by the legislation. At the end of the day, though we know that billions of pounds of public money were spent to providing PPE, often of substandard quality and massively inflated prices. The officially stated estimates from the Department for Health & Social Care (DHSC) are that it lost 75% of the £12 billion it spent on personal protective equipment (PPE) in the first year of the pandemic to inflated prices and kit that did not meet requirements – including fully £4 billion of PPE that will not be used in the NHS and needs to be disposed of.