Eddie Mair 4pm - 6pm
Fury as MPs approve compulsory Covid vaccinations for care home staff
13 July 2021, 22:41
Care home staff in England will need to receive two doses of a Covid vaccine from the autumn unless medically exempt under new regulations.
MPs approved the measure on Tuesday despite fury among some Tory backbenchers, as Conservative MPs criticised the Government for not publishing an impact assessment ahead of the vote.
Under the rules, passed by 319 to 246 in the House of Commons, anybody working in a care home registered with the Care Quality Commission must get fully vaccinated.
Thirty Tories rebelled against the plans while health minister Helen Whately insisted the "impact assessment is being worked on".
Conservative William Wragg said: "You could perhaps have a painting next to me of Munch's The Scream and get towards the feeling I have over the conduct of Government business in this House.
"The Government is treating this House with utter contempt. Ninety minutes on a statutory instrument to fundamentally change the balance of human rights in this country is nothing short of a disgrace.
"The fact no impact assessment exists, and I contend that it does not exist - and if that is proven to be the case then I'm afraid the minister will be in a tricky position if she contends it does and it doesn't - is a disgrace."
Mr Wragg raised the case of a care worker who worries she will lose her job when the policy is implemented.
"Is that what we're prepared to do to our fellow citizens as a Conservative government? It's absolute lunacy. You'd expect this in a communist country," he complained.
Ms Whately said the proposals, due to take effect 16 weeks after they have been made, come as the majority of care staff have been vaccinated.
She added that it was an issue of duty of care.
Former Tory minister Mark Harper, chairman of the lockdown sceptic Covid Recovery Group, said: "It isn't good enough to expect us to vote on something that is difficult and controversial and complicated, and not share the information with the House that the minister has at her disposal, it is an abuse."
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, said: "This is a very serious innovation, a legal requirement being imposed for people to undertake a medical intervention which may be against their will is a remarkable change in our law."
Shadow health minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said: "To force carers to choose between losing their jobs or taking a vaccine they're afraid of is inhumane."
Labour's Rachael Maskell added: "We're having to make a decision in the House this evening on the balance of risk and therefore we haven't been given the data because the impact assessment hasn't come forward."
Deputy Speaker of the Commons Nigel Evans said he would talk to the Speaker about the "totally unsatisfactory" situation.