Guido brings you the key lines…
09.35: Greg Clark points out Cummings has missed all deadlines to submit evidence to substantiate his claims made against Hancock during his committee appearance. Cummings has not explained the absence of his submission.
09.36: Hancock denies ever saying something to the PM that he knew to be untrue
09.37: Hancock denies blaming Treasury for blocking purchasing of PPE. Says it is “Not a fair recollection” of the truth.
09.42: Hancock explains the care home testing policy
09.49: Clark: “Did you know that [Cummings] wanted the PM to fire you?”; Hancock: “Yes because he briefed the newspapers at the time”
09.54: Hancock says “The best thing to say is that Government has operated much better over the last six months”
10.10: Hancock defends the 100,000 target says it was needed to galvanise the Whitehall machine.
10.12: Hancock claims countries that experienced SARS & MERS were better prepared, though Covid-19 was very different on account of asymptomatic transmission.
10.18: Hancock: “One of the things that we must absolutely change at a global level – that part of the response to a global health pathogen needs to be health action at the border.”
10.29: Hancock stresses that only 1.6% of cases from care homes came from hospitals.
10:49: Insists that closing the borders last year would have made little difference: “The only way the world could have stopped this virus getting out of China is if China itself had stopped people leaving China.”
11:28: Hancock claims he first heard about asymptomatic spread in January 2020: “I arranged a call with the World Health Organisation. I was told on that call with respect to China this was ‘likely a mistranslation’ […] I bitterly regret that I didn’t overrule that scientific advice.”
12:34: Hancock attributes Wales’ vaccine rollout success to the union, and claims Wales decided not to hold a “buffer supply” for second doses, unlike England. “The union saves lives“, he says.
12:43: On PPE shortages: “There’s no evidence, that I have seen, that a shortage of PPE provision led to anybody dying of Covid”.
13:03: Hancock says people should be happy to donate their health data (anonymously) for research purposes.
13:06: Responding to Cummings’ claim that the vaccine rollout was taken out of Hancock’s hands to ensure it was conducted effectively, Hancock said it was “a team effort“.
13:10: Again stressing how hard he pushed for vaccine development in early 2020.
13:16: Claims that Wales’ circuit breaker late last year wasn’t effective because cases immediately spiked after it was lifted.
13:25: On why the government didn’t close the borders to India earlier: “You have to act on the data that you have.”
13:31: The Delta/Indian variant now makes up 90% of cases in the UK.
13:49: That’s a wrap.
Cummings has used his select committee appearance to reject stories he took a £45,000 pay rise last year. Spurred on by a question from Dawn Butler, Cummings claims he asked for a pay cut upon joining Downing Street to match his £100,000 Vote Leave salary – down from the £145,000 someone in his role would have been offered.
He admits his pay as chief advisor eventually returned to the £145,000 level the day after the 2019 general election. Rather undermines Starmer’s recent attack line of choice on nurses’ pay…
Dominic Cummings has only been before the Science and Technology Committee for 10 minutes and already disclosed some interesting nuggets – including what his demands were of Boris before agreeing to join No. 10 as his chief advisor:
Boris apparently replied “deal”…
Appearing before the Science and Technology Committee this morning, Sir Patrick Vallance admitted that “there is no really hard evidence on curfew times”. Under questioning from Greg Clarke, Vallance said the decision to impose the curfew had been based on the assumption “keeping people longer in an environment where there is also alcohol is likely to increase risk”. An industry devastating restriction, all based on a hunch.