Parliament backs vaccine passports despite 100-strong Tory rebellion

Written by Sam Trendall on 15 December 2021 in News

MPs vote through the use of Covid passes 

Credit: Parliament/CC BY 3.0

The House of Commons has approved the use of vaccine passports for domestic events – despite 99 Conservative MPs voting against their introduction.

The mandatory use of a certification system was backed by 369 votes to 126, with Labour members whipped by leader Keir Starmer to support the plan. 

The approval means that, as of 6am this morning, nightclubs and large events must include the presentation of an NHS Covid Pass as a condition of entry. The pass is available via the NHS app, and venues in scope of the new rules must download an updated version of the verifier app through which they can scan and validate customers’ passes. 

The document includes details of the users’ vaccination doses – including third or booster jabs. Passes can also be obtained if the user has posted a negative test in the past 48 hours. 

Previously, passes have also been made available to those who have recorded a positive test in the prior 180-day period – thereby demonstrating natural immunity. As of this week, passes will no longer be issued on the grounds of natural immunity; apps and systems have been updated accordingly.

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Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting described the use of vaccine passports as “a necessary response to the Omicron threat”.

The extension of the Covid pass programme forms part of the government’s so-called plan B measures; another component of the proposals is the mandatory use of face masks in shops and on public transport. This was passed by 441 votes to 41, including 38 Conservatives that voted in opposition.

There was unanimous approval for a change to the rules on isolation which means that fully vaccinated people must test daily for up to 10 days after a close contact with a coronavirus case, but do not need to self-isolate.
A final vote on proposals to mandate vaccination for NHS staff passed with a majority of 285 – albeit with 61 Tories and 22 Labour MPs opposing the measure. 

The suite of plan B measures are due to be removed in the spring.

Addressing parliament yesterday, health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “I’m confident that these are balanced and proportionate measures and that still leave us with far fewer restrictions than are in place in most of Europe and I can assure the house that we’ll keep reviewing the measures we’ve put in place and we won’t keep them for a day longer than we have to.”


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on


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