“Recall Parliament in Swine Flu crisis” – Jo

Jo has called on the Prime Minister to recall Parliament in the summer if the swine flu pandemic worsens.

At Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Jo called on Gordon Brown to consider recalling Parliament during its 82 day summer recess if the Swine Flu pandemic worsened. Jo argued that if the Government’s response to the pandemic were to change significantly then MPs should be able to return to Westminster to hold the Government to account.

This comes as East Dunbartonshire confirmed its first swine flu case two weeks ago. In the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region 43 new cases have been recorded, the highest number in Scotland. The total number of cases in Scotland reached 1,263 on Thursday, with more than 1,000 of those on Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Across the rest of the UK the number of cases is rapidly increasing – the Prime Minister announced that the total number of confirmed cases has now reached 6,929 as compared with 2,236 last week. Health Minister Andy Burnham warned that with cases more than doubling each week, we could see more than 100,000 new cases per day by the end of August.

Commenting, Jo said:

“I am obviously concerned about the outbreak of swine flu in East Dunbartonshire and across the rest of the country. The number of confirmed cases is rapidly rising, and the Government may well have to make difficult decisions over the summer months about how to deal with the situation. If the Government is to be properly held to account it is crucial that Parliament is able to debate their actions, and if the predictions of 100,000 new cases a day come true it would be ridiculous for there to be no scrutiny of how the Government deals with it. That is why I have called on the Prime Minister to recall Parliament if there is any significant change in the severity of the situation.”

Full text of Jo’s question and the Prime Minister’s response appear below:

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): News of tomorrow’s statement is welcome, but if the swine flu pandemic were sufficiently to trigger changes in the Government’s approach during the 82-day summer recess, would the Prime Minister recall Parliament so that there could be proper scrutiny of the Government’s actions?

The Prime Minister: The hon. Lady will know that the Health Secretary will make a statement tomorrow on the issue of swine flu. We will make sure that at all points we are vigilant in ensuring that the treatment of that disease in every part of the country is right and proper.

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