MPs urge ministers to scrap ‘discriminatory and unjustified’ Covid passports

Commons committee warns system would ‘by its very nature be discriminatory’

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Saturday 12 June 2021 00:12
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The government has failed to justify the use of Covid passports, which would discriminate against minorities and risk social and economic harm, a group of MPs has warned.

A delayed review into the certificates is expected to be published next week, as ministers finally announce whether or not they will press ahead with plans to lift the last parts of England’s lockdown on 21 June.

Last month Michael Gove, the minister in charge of the review, talked of the disadvantages of such a system but said it could allow large events such as Premier League football matches to resume.

But the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) said the government had failed to make the scientific case for the passports.

In a report published today MPs on the committee also warned the scheme would disproportionately discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age and socio-economic background, because some groups were less likely to be vaccinated than others.

The report also said the implementation would "by its very nature be discriminatory" and the MPs found "no justification for introducing a Covid-status certification system that would be sufficient to counter what is likely to be a significant infringement of individual rights".

William Wragg, the Conservative MP who chairs the PACAC said: “We recognise the need to formulate an effective lockdown exit, but Covid passports are not the answer. We are entirely unconvinced by the case for their introduction. Although it is a tool that is being sold as and built with the intention of being for the universal good, it has the potential to cause great damage socially and economically.

“As vaccine uptake statistics indicate, any Covid certification system will be a discriminator along the lines of race, religion and age.” He always said there were question marks over the cost of a passport scheme compared to any gains it might provide.

“Frankly, the Government needs to scrap any idea of introducing Covid passports,” he said. “They are unnecessary and there is no justification for them in the science and none in logic.”

Mr Gove has described the benefits of a vaccine passports scheme are "finely balanced".

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said ministers would not pursue the proposals if they proved too costly or too much "hassle" for the hospitality industry.

The NHS app has already been updated to allow users to prove their vaccine status.

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