Plans for coronavirus vaccine passports are a form of undercover national ID cards, Willie Rennie has warned.
The Scottish Lib Dem leader was joined by Ed Davey, the party’s UK leader, in urging the Scottish Government to suspend vaccine certificate plans until MSPs can scrutinise the idea after the election.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed caution about the introduction of covid passports to allow people access to public spaces and events.
She said she was “open-minded” on the issue of vaccine passports and while she expects vaccine passports or certification in some form in Scotland she insisted that there needs to be public support and confidence in the idea.
But SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford caused confusion on the party’s stance, first suggesting he “would look constructively at any proposals” put forwards by the Conservative government in Westminster but then issuing a clarification.
Blackford subsequently said that as things currently stand the SNP will not support the plans for domestic vaccine passports although they may be needed for international travel.
He said: “The UK government hasn’t published any proposals yet, and the Tory position has been mired in confusion and contradiction. On the basis of the information available, there is not a proposition in front of us that SNP MPs could support.”
Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems could be joined by scores of backbench Tories in opposing the plans at Westminster meaning the idea might not get off the ground at all.
Labour, in common with Sturgeon, has expressed cautious support for trail events with vaccine certificates and the Scottish government is considering making digital “certificates” available to people who have had the Covid-19 vaccine.
However, Willie Rennie said the SNP government had previously attempted to create an ID database and should rule out the introduction of covid passports.
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The Lib Dem leader said: “Neither the UK or Scottish Governments have ruled out using vaccine passports to limit access to public spaces, services and events.”
“It would be unfair for millions of young people who have sacrificed so much in the last year to lose out and a major step for the government to insist on medical treatment before people can access every day services.
“The SNP tried to create a super ID database to share lots of private information between 120 public sector bodies from Quality Meat Scotland to the Royal Botanical Gardens. So we are right to be wary of their plans for vaccine passports.”
Ed Davey said: “Vaccine passports are undercover ID cards. With government’s north and south of the border previously attracted to ID cards, we must be extra vigilant about this development.”
“Liberal Democrats opposed ID cards because of the concern about government storing personal information on a super database which could be misused in future.”