Vaccine passports branded first step to an 'Orwellian dystopian future'
- Credit: Archant
Covid passports have been branded a slippery slope attack on our civil liberties by one Norfolk MP, while others say we need to wait and see.
A government review into “Covid status certification” has found they could play a role in opening up settings such as theatres, nightclubs and sports events, as well as pubs and restaurants to reduce social distancing restrictions.
Boris Johnson is said to be facing a battle from within and outside his party over the passport plans, with at least 40 Conservative MPs opposed.
Three of Norfolk’s Tory MPs have said they are not rushing to make any judgement about the plans, while the county's only Labour MP has come out firmly against them.
Clive Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South, said he and the public have supported lockdowns but considers passports “a step too far”.
He said: “It is clear this government does not respect civil liberties - to try to introduce their vaccine passports is a danger to our liberties.
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“History shows us that when governments accrue new powers, they rarely let them go. We could slide into an Orwellian dystopian future.”
Mr Lewis said he was concerned the passports could lock families from going on holiday or events together.
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“The whole point of lockdowns was that it applied to everyone equally, while vaccine passports could exclude people.
“There are so many reasons why people can’t take a vaccine, if they’re pregnant for example - does that mean they shouldn’t go out?”
Mr Lewis said he believes people should pay attention when concerns about the scheme have been raised on both sides of politics.
“When someone on the left, like me, and someone like [Conservative MP] David Davis agrees, then the public should sit up and take notice.”
North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker, said he understood why people might have concerns about discrimination but argued additional measures could help everyone free from covid enjoy themselves.
“These [vaccine passports] should not be dismissed out of hand, if there are ways back to normalcy that will help the majority then those have to be considered.
“I think they have a role to play and if someone has, for whatever reason, not had a vaccine then we can use a system which won’t discriminate against them.
“For example, you could have a person doing temperature checks, or as technology progress, we could have quick tests that give accurate results from saliva, that would get around not being about to display a vaccine passport."
Waveney MP Peter Aldous said he was keeping an open mind to the passports and would be listening to various views before making a decision.
“The government is not rushing into this, and, from my perspective, I will be looking at the trials and will be taking on feedback from constituents.
“We don’t want to undo to good work we have done.”
Asked if the passports could be unfair to younger people who have been unable to get the vaccine so far, Mr Aldous said it meant we had to continue the rollout and make sure those age categories are covered.
Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew, believes vaccine passports will be required for travelling abroad and can see the argument for helping to unlock activities in the UK to help get businesses up and running.
"But there are some serious issues about access and potential for discrimination that need to be carefully thought through before any decision is taken to implement them, so I am glad that the Government is taking this carefully," he added.