SIR: Winchester's MP Steve Brine served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Public Health and Primary Care at the Department of Health from June 2017 to March 2019. This was during a critical period in which preparations for global pandemics (including stockpiling of PPE and ITU beds) were largely ignored by the UK - despite repeated warnings from scientists and international health authorities. Why?

Was it, perhaps because Steve was too busy working for anti-NHS lobby groups which - as reported in the Hampshire Chronicle recently - profit by filling gaps in NHS staffing amongst other things? Vacancies that have to be filled in part because Steve voted against the pay rise for nurses. Our MP boosted his salary by an additional £40k per annum (on top of an MP's income of c. £80k - more as a Minister - plus pension and benefits ) through this dubious activity, when perhaps he might have better spent his time and our money preparing for Covid.

As the Chronicle reported on May 7, Winchester has amongst the highest Covid-19 rates in the UK and Hampshire had a death toll (then) of 509.

Given all this, it's surely a matter of public interest to know why, during his ministerial period when pandemic management was part of his brief, Steve failed so markedly to safeguard his constituents and the UK – which has amongst the highest Covid death rates in the world?

If Steve cares to respond (he doesn't via social media and only cuts-and-pastes boiler-plate responses to email letters) - can he clarify why he isn't actively pursuing Dominic Cummings' dismissal - other than, (very) passively, being 'not against the idea of of him [Cummings] resigning" (Chronicle, May 28)? A quote finally winkled out of Mr Brine only through the diligence of the Chronicle. And what does Steve's Uriah Heep-ish stance on 'Covid Cummings' say to his constituents who have honoured both the letter and spirit of lock up for nearly three months?

Nick Wray,

Fordington Avenue,