An MP has demanded assurances no powers will be handed over to international organisations which would force the UK to act in a certain way in the event of any future pandemic - and called for any changes to be debated fully in Parliament.
Shipley MP Philip Davies is concerned over the World Health Organisation pandemic response treaty and changes to its rule book, known as International Health Regulations (IHRs), and the impact it could have on the UK.
He said government must stop and think before “blindly supporting” any changes and MPs must debate the proposals – which he opposes – in full.
The proposed changes could see the UK forced to close its borders, introduce vaccine passports, enforce quarantines, lockdowns and restrict travel.
Speaking in a debate in Parliament Mr Davies said: “We are talking about a top-down approach to global public health hardwired into international law.”
He added: “It is absolutely essential that the Government make a clear and unambiguous promise that they will neither support nor abide by anything that in any way undermines our national sovereignty. We have not spent so many years battling to get out of the frying pan of the EU to jump straight back into the fire with the equally unaccountable, undemocratic and hopeless World Health Organisation.”
The debate was held following an e-petition opposing the treaty. More than 116,000 signed the petition including 189 people from the Shipley constituency. People are concerned with language being used which would change the emphasis from suggesting countries take certain approaches to pandemics, to forcing them to act in certain ways.
Mr Davies added: “It seems to me that the World Health Organisation has no need to rush any of this—we have time to reassess and get it right—and it seems I am not the only one to think that. In recent weeks, we have seen signs that some countries, including Estonia, Slovakia and New Zealand, are looking to question the proposals.
“It is not clear if any member states have submitted formal notices to reject them and opt out, but New Zealand does appear to have lodged a reservation to allow the incoming Government more time to consider whether the amendments are consistent with a national interest test required by New Zealand law. That is entirely sensible, and I would like to see our own Government take a pause to apply some critical thinking to this situation before blindly supporting the World Health Organisation’s installation as our new global public health power.”
Mr Davies called on government to allow sufficient Parliamentary time to robustly debate the proposals. He said if MPs are given a vote on the issue he will vote against the UK signing up to such measures.