One of the real honours in Parliament since becoming an MP has been my election to the Health & Social Care Select Committee (HSCSC) and appointment to the Human Rights Joint Select Committee. I am conscious each time I speak or ask a question, I do so as the elected represented for Watford. As such, I see these committees as a platform to voice the concerns that people in our town raise to me.

Select committees are the official sessions where MPs can scrutinise government, advisers and experts from industry to ask questions that are often very topical. They are non-political and in both of these committees I work alongside cross party figures who, including with some political heavyweights such as Jeremy Hunt, Harriet Harman, Lord Trimble, Lord Singh and Lord Dubs.

When I was appointed to both of these committees, little could I have possibly imagined just how important my role would become due to coronavirus. My first health committee session was interviewing Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty on government measures for Covid-19 and questioning him over the advice he had provided the Prime Minister.

The gravity of my role and that of the select committee is never lost on me. It takes a lot of preparation for both myself, colleagues and the witnesses to ensure we get to the answers the public and health professionals want to know. Covid-19 has resulted, quite rightly, in the people of this country having a lot of unprecedented questions. I very much saw my role as asking what people want answers for during this unnerving time. I scrutinised and questioned why schools at the time weren’t closed, on when the NHS would have more Personal Protective Equipment provisions and on how increased testing would be rolled out across the country.

I also felt my role on the select committee gave me a platform to thank some of those key workers who I, and so many in the UK, felt had been under-appreciated but were so important to our national effort. Our pharmacists and carers during the pandemic have shown immense bravery and are at the bedrock of those supporting the vulnerable during this time.

The Human Rights Joint Select Committee is similarly critical at this time and is vital for checks and balances now and long term. It was only a two weeks ago that Parliament passed an essential and necessary reaching bill extending the powers of government to enable decisions to be made to save lives during this pandemic. Even so, along with scrutinising other human rights in the UK, the role of the committee will be a crucial in checking the government's use of power. As a stalwart supporter of individual liberty, I and the whole Human Rights committee intend to ensure the Government uses its enhanced powers in a healthy and productive way.

Being on a select committee really is a privilege, and affords me the opportunity to hold ministers and governmental advisers to account. I am particularly proud that this means I can ensure Watford has a voice at this difficult time. Importantly, it also means I can confidently say that having spent hours interrogating the experts on Covid-19 first hand, I feel confident that the Government and their team are doing everything they can to protect the UK and save lives.

To defeat coronavirus, we need to follow government and NHS advice. It really is as simple as Stay Home, Protect The NHS and Save Lives.

  • Dean Russell is Conservative MP for Watford