Ministers must provide evidence to demonstrate how local lockdowns will improve things to prove they have 'got a grip' on the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a senior Tory MP.

The warning came as MPs debated local lockdown restrictions in Merseyside, Halton, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, and an easing of restrictions for Bolton.

Speaking in the Commons, Health minister Helen Whately told MPs: "Many areas across the north of England have already been subject to extra restrictions, in some cases for weeks, and I know this is really hard for people day in, day out - and for many businesses."

Conservative former minister Mark Harper, intervening, asked: "Is she able to set out for us some of the evidence that actually demonstrates that these measures introduced in the Liverpool area are actually likely to have some prospect of working, because I think that's what's going to be important for reassuring our constituents that the Government has got a grip on the situation."

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Conservative former minister Jake Berry asked about the impact of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in places such as Bolton, noting: "When it was introduced the rate per 100,000 was more than 10 times that of central London.

"Does she believe it's had an impact and if so, what?"

Health minister Helen Whately said the Government is "always looking" at the transmission rate when it comes to interventions, adding: "Something we saw when there was Eat Out to Help Out, that was a period where in general we had lower rates of infection and it gave a great support to the hospitality sector that had clearly been having a really difficult time.

"We're now very much seeing a second wave, particularly in the north of England, and therefore it is absolutely appropriate there are, in general, greater restrictions because we absolutely must suppress this virus and one place where we know infection goes on is through hospitality where there is social contact."

Ms Whately earlier said the Government is trying to "get the balance right" between enforcing targeted restrictions and keeping things simple.