Letter submitted to The Times, 6 June 2020:
Nearly a month ago, the Government announced it was establishing a Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), which ministers have indicated several times in the daily Number 10 media briefings, is to be charged with delivering an important analytical function in the fight against Covid19. But something odd is going on with this new body.
We know, thanks to your political editor’s exclusive reporting (“Virus monitoring centre has a changing role and leadership,” June3) that the JBS is already on its second director.
Matthew Parris on Saturday (“Johnson has been tested and found wanting,: Jun6) added further to the JBC mystery in citing the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, himself has indicated it has in fact yet to come into formal existence, even though it has been cited as discussing high- policy matters with England’s chief medical officer over Covid19 alert levels.
Three weeks ago, on May 20, Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas submitted two written Parliamentary questions to tease out some details of the new JBC, Commons
asking Mr Hancock:
when a permanent director to the new Joint Biosecurity Centre will be appointed; whether that organisation will be (a) staffed by civil servants and (b) informed by a standing team of experts; how many staff have been appointed to date; when wider membership and staffing will be announced; what the annual budget for the JBC will be; from which departmental budget or budgets the resources will be provided from; what principles of transparency the centre will operate under; what (c) information and (d) analysis the centre will publish; 49643&Commons
Despite ministers being required to answer within four working days ( including the recent recess), no answer has yet been provided.