Vaccine Passports Debate

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Department: HM Treasury

Vaccine Passports

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Monday 15th March 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Westminster Hall
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Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David, and thank you for that warning about time. I hope not to detain the House that long, but I will make a few brief comments.

I welcome the debate because it is an opportunity for the Government vigorously to reinforce the view that they are not going to introduce vaccine passports. I hope that they use this platform to state that they will not do so, because such passports would be a complete and total overreaction, and they are completely and totally unnecessary.

The vaccine roll-out has been positive—a success for the UK. We had a similar response with respect to the flu vaccine, but no one would say that people must have a passport to prove that they have had that particular vaccine, even though flu takes many lives in the United Kingdom each winter. It would be a complete and total overreaction for Members to stand up and demand such a passport for people who had received the flu vaccine. We do not need such passports, which would become supplementary identity cards.

I agree with the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Upper Bann (Carla Lockhart) about the Republic of Ireland’s kneejerk reaction today to stop rolling out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. That is more about the failure of the Republic of Ireland to have its own successful vaccine roll-out programme than it is about anything else. I understand that about 17 million people across Europe have received that vaccine, and from those 17 million vaccines, there have been only about 31 adverse effects. That is a remarkable state of affairs, and what we have seen in the Republic of Ireland is more to do with politics than it is to do with science.

Like the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr Baker), I believe that vaccine passports would lead to a two-tier society and would increase opportunities to discriminate. That would be abundantly wrong. I agree that we cannot legislate for what other countries do. If we want to go to certain countries, we might have to have a vaccine passport, or proof that we have received a vaccine, but that is a matter for those countries. All we can do is implore them to be proportionate and responsible in what they do. We should not pursue vaccine passports domestically, however. If airlines or other countries decide to do this, that is of course a matter for them, but we should implore those countries and organisations to demonstrate proportionality in what they do.

Our civil liberties are something we should cherish, and we should not throw them away so quickly for others to manage for us because they know better. The people know what is best and we should guard our civil liberties with care.