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Government Reveals Plans for Commons Debate on Excess Deaths

Due to mounting pressure from a growing cohort of scientists and lawmakers, MP Andrew Bridgen has successfully secured a debate, although concerns linger about potential filibustering tactics that could derail it.

The Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, has announced a three-hour backbench debate scheduled for next month to address “the COVID-19 pandemic response and trends in excess deaths.”

This decision comes as a response to increasing calls from MPs and peers, as well as several letters from respected scientists and statisticians urging the government to urgently investigate a potential link between the rise in excess deaths and COVID-19 vaccinations.

The debate was spearheaded by vocal vaccine critic, MP Andrew Bridgen, who expressed appreciation for the opportunity while voicing apprehensions about the timing of the debate being the second one on Thursday, April 18, making it vulnerable to filibustering from MPs intent on prolonging discussions.

Despite being allocated a three-hour slot, parliamentary proceedings like urgent questions and ministerial statements could encroach on the available time.

“It’s not an ideal situation because it’s the second backbench debate on that day, and traditionally, if it’s a topic the government wants to avoid addressing—or in this case, if Parliament is hesitant to discuss it…there’s a risk of extensive filibustering,” explained Mr. Bridgen in an interview with TNT radio.

26 Requests for Debate Approval

The MP for North West Leicestershire shared that he submitted 26 applications for this debate, finally succeeding with the backing of 24 MPs from various political affiliations.

Mr. Bridgen also produced a brief documentary shedding light on the thalidomide scandal, where babies in the 1960s suffered severe deformities after their mothers were prescribed the drug for morning sickness.

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“Although the scandal emerged in ’61, it wasn’t until 1972 that the issue and the term ‘thalidomide’ were permitted to be discussed in the House of Commons, which is deplorable,” he remarked.

“Successive House of Commons speakers, [experts] hypothesize, purposely stifled conversations on thalidomide for 11 years.”

Remarkably, shortly after the film’s production, an adjournment debate was offered, sparsely attended by fellow MPs last October but attracting a full public gallery with approximately 150 people turned away.

BBC Apologizes for Coverage of Previous Debate

Following this Commons debate, the BBC issued an apology for displaying pro-vaccine “corrections” as pseudo-subtitles throughout Mr. Bridgen’s speech, where he discussed known vaccine harms and quoted scientists suggesting a correlation between excess deaths and vaccinations.

Continuing to advocate for parliamentary action, Mr. Bridgen successfully secured a 90-minute Westminster Hall debate focusing on excess deaths on Jan. 16, with participation from 24 MPs but limited time for most backbenchers to speak for three minutes only.

Expressing optimism about the upcoming April debate and urging constituents to contact their local MPs to voice concerns about vaccine implications, lockdown strategies, and vaccination rollouts, Mr. Bridgen also cautioned that the debate’s occurrence remains uncertain.

He mentioned the likelihood of the backbench committee postponing it until September due to a potential summer general election altering the House of Commons landscape dramatically.

BBC Parliament's coverage of MP Andrew Bridgen's trends in excess deaths debate dated Oct. 20, 2023. (Screenshot/BBC Parliament)
BBC Parliament’s coverage of MP Andrew Bridgen’s trends in excess deaths debate dated Oct. 20, 2023. (Screenshot/BBC Parliament)

‘A Tug of War’

“It’s like a tug of war, and they’re only giving the rope very, very slowly,” he remarked.

Numerous letters have been penned by various groups of lawmakers, advocacy organizations, and scientists calling for specific data sets from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to definitively establish a connection between COVID-19 vaccinations and the surge in excess deaths.

A debate in the House of Lords late last year, led by Conservative peer Lord Strathcarran, highlighted approximately 60,000 excess deaths in individuals under 65, primarily due to heart-related conditions, since the onset of lockdown measures.

While officials attribute the increase to lingering COVID-19 effects, delayed medical care access during lockdowns, and rising obesity rates, many scientists note that the spike in excess deaths aligns with the vaccine rollout in 2021.

Despite calls from MPs and scientists, the ONS has declined to compile detailed data sets illustrating vaccination dates and subsequent deaths, citing data protection concerns, even though such datasets are accessible in other nations.

The organization justified this stance by mentioning demographic shifts from high immigration rates and an aging population, but critics like Professor Norman Fenton view it as a convenient strategy to lower death rates.

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