Carmichael presses for publication of scientific evidence on vaccine passport plans

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Home Affairs and MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, has today called on the government to publish in full evidence in support of any vaccine passport scheme after it continued to refuse to rule the plan out. Governments in London and Edinburgh have been criticised by a range of business and civil rights groups for their Covid ID plans due to a lack of clarity on human rights issues, little evidence on the proposals’ efficacy in fighting the pandemic and the costs to struggling hospitality businesses.

Responding to Mr Carmichael’s call for evidence, Cabinet Office minister, Nigel Adams MP said:

“The Cabinet Office conducted a review into Covid state certification which found that its use would have had a public health benefit, this was based on evidence from SAGE and the events research programme. PHE analysis of the events research programme found that certification should reduce the likeliness of infection to large numbers of other attendees.

The publication of the government’s Autumn and Winter Plan set out that we will keep mandatory certification in reserve to prevent unsustainable strain on the NHS and allow businesses to remain open.”

Mr Carmichael then asked:

“The government has had no fewer than thirteen different positions in relation to vaccine passports. They said yes three times, no four and maybe six. So rather than just asserting that the evidence is there, will the Minister commit to publish it. If they are going to take the public with them the case will have to be made and they haven’t made it yet. And incidentally, are we going to have a vote?”

Responding for the government, Nigel Adams MP said:

“We have published brief summaries in the Autumn and Winter Plan. We are keeping vaccine certification in reserve in case it is required. We do hope that it will be unnecessary but the responsible thing is to prepare for all eventualities.”

Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

“It rather stretches credibility that the government claims to have evidence in support of vaccine passports – but it just cannot publish it. No less than the Conservative chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee has called out the government for failing to give any scientific evidence in support of vaccine passports, despite promising to do so.

“We’ve seen enough flailing around vaccine passports by the Scottish Government, which still hasn’t given any detailed guidance on their scheme despite there being just a week until it is supposed to come into force. Whether it is North or South of the border there seems to be more of an obsession with the appearance of action than whether or not that action actually does any good. Vaccine passports are unnecessary and illiberal and we deserve better than this bulldozer approach.”

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