Boris Johnson has confirmed the Government will set up an independent public inquiry with statutory powers into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister told MPs the inquiry would be able to take oral evidence under oath and will place “the state’s actions under the microscope”.

Boris Johnson told the Commons: “This inquiry must be able to look at the events of the last year in the cold light of day and identify the key issues that will make a difference for the future.

“Free to scrutinise every document to hear from all the key players and analyse and learn from the breadth of our response.

“That’s the right way, I think, to get the answers that the people of this country deserve and to ensure that our United Kingdom is better prepared for any future pandemic.”

Mr Johnson said: “If we are to recover as one team UK as we must, then we should also learn lessons together in the same spirit.

“So, we will consult to devolved administrations before finalising the scope and detailed arrangements so that this inquiry can consider all key aspects of the UK response.”

He added: “This process will place the state’s actions under the microscope, and we should be mindful of the scale of that undertaking and the resources required to do it properly.

“The exercise of identifying and disclosing all relevant information, the months of preparation and retrospective analysis and the time that people will have to spend testifying in public, in some cases for days.”

Mr Johnson warned of the “significant burden” the inquiry would place on the people we depend on as he warned the end of the lockdown is not the end of the pandemic.

He said: “It will place a significant burden on our NHS on the whole of government, on our scientific advisors and on many others.

“We must not inadvertently distract the very people on whom we all depend in the heat of our struggle against this disease and the end of the lockdown is not the end of the pandemic.”

South Wales Argus: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responds after Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic. (PA)Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responds after Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic. (PA)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the Commons: “Can I clearly welcome the independent inquiry into the pandemic and the establishing of a UK commission on Covid commemoration. Both are necessary, both will play an important part in learning the lessons and commemorating those we have lost.”

Sir Keir highlighted the difficulties experienced by families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, including the lack of a chance to say goodbye or have a funeral in the way they wanted.

He said: “It is good that the Government is consulting the devolved authorities, of course it is. But the Government must also consult the families because this inquiry will only work if it has the support and confidence of the families.”