MP demands more information on cost of PPE imports from China during pandemic

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A Lancashire MP is challenging the Government to reveal details of how much has been paid to Chinese companies for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) during the Covid pandemic.

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has criticised the Government for a "clear lack of transparency" over the cost of PPE imported from China.

She made her comments after the Department of Health said it was unable to give details of the payments made to Chinese companies for PPE and test kits.

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Rosie Cooper MP said: “It is outrageous that the Government won’t reveal who they paid and how much. They claim it would cost too much to gather this information, but I don’t believe that for a second."

West Lancashire MP Rosie CooperWest Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper

She said: "Purchasing PPE and testing kits was entirely necessary, but the public still have a right to know whether this money was spent ethically and effectively...We cannot have blind faith that this Government has done the right thing. We must insist on transparency."

Her comments follow a parliamentary question from Lancashire based Lord Alton of Liverpool. Lord Alton, a former MP and a human rights campaigner, had asked the Department to give details of the payments and the companies which were contracted to provide supplies of PPE.

Lord Bethell, a junior minister at the Department of Health and Social Care, said the full details were not available "in the format requeasted" and obtaining the answer would be at a "disproportionate cost’."

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He noted some orders could have been sub-contracted to Chinese companies by companies from other countries.

Lord Alton's question was: "To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much money they have paid in the last two years to companies based in China manufacturing masks and other personal protective equipment; which such companies they have paid; whether there are any complexities in the supply chain which prevent such information from being provided; and if so, what those complexities are."

Earlier this month Lord Bethell responded: "The information on the amount paid to Chinese companies and the specific companies involved is not held in the format requested and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been procured from a number of different sources internationally which prevents the Department from identifying Chinese companies as all companies can sub-contract a Chinese company. While the Department records contracts made directly with companies based in China, we do not hold a central record of any sub-contracting. PPE was also procured through intermediaries and this information is not collected centrally."

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