UK coronavirus LIVE: Face masks could be mandatory 'for foreseeable future' as Boris Johnson accused of 'rhetorical nonsense' in PMQs clash

UK coronavirus LIVE: Face masks could be mandatory 'for foreseeable future' as Boris Johnson accused of 'rhetorical nonsense' in PMQs clash

MPs have been criticised for “haggling” over Covid-19 death rates in the Commons.

Conservative Andrew Bowie cautioned English and Scottish MPs on both sides about having such a debate as the chamber considered the impact of coronavirus on the Brexit process.

SNP MP Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) suggested people in Scotland believe the Scottish Government has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than the UK Government, adding: “We’ve now reached a period where for over a week, there’s been no deaths in Scotland.

“I think everybody in the chamber welcomes that and it’s a shame the death figures in the UK are still way too high, but I think that’s a sign of how we’ve handled it in Scotland much better.”

Conservative Katherine Fletcher (South Ribble) intervened to challenge this, telling Mr Brown: “To return to the point he makes about the death rates and figures, as a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee, we’ve been hearing much about different rates in care homes and lots of the powers that are currently with the Scottish Government to prevent care home deaths.

“I’d encourage him to look at the figures because Scotland is much worse than England.”

Mr Brown replied: “I’d have thought as a scrupulous member of that committee she would know that the death rate in care homes in Scotland is not actually higher than the death rate in care homes in England.

“That said, much higher than we’d have liked, there’s no doubt about it, it’d have been much better for all if so many people didn’t suffer.

“But I go back to the main point that there’s been no deaths at all of Covid for over a week now in Scotland. It’s quite clear we’re handling the virus much better.”

Conservative Paul Holmes (Eastleigh) said such a comment was “beneath” Mr Brown, adding: “The population of Scotland is so much lower than the rest of England, of course there would be more deaths in England than Scotland, and he should withdraw the accusation that his Government has done more than this Government for Covid – it’s based on population.”

Mr Brown refused to withdraw his “factual assertion” over the handling of the crisis, adding: “The death rate in England is far, far higher than Scotland.

“There’s still daily deaths occurring every day in England and I’ve said there’s none in Scotland – that’s nothing to do with having a low population, zero is zero.”

Mr Bowie (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) intervened to add: “I would suggest it does this House a disservice to see, for people outside, us haggling over which country has had the fewer deaths.

“Frankly, I think this does this House on both sides a disservice.”

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