The UK continues to negotiate on amendments, alongside other member states of the World Health Organisation. We want to ensure that the International Health Regulations are effective in preventing and responding to potential health threats, leaving the UK better prepared for future health emergencies. We anticipate negotiations to continue until the 77th World Health Assembly in May next year.
Will the Minister assure me that the proposed changes to the International Health Regulations being negotiated will not give new rule-making powers, such as those tabled by Bangladesh, to the WHO director general to make binding directions on matters including border closures, quarantining and vaccine passports? Even the WHO’s own expert review committee has raised concerns over such significant increases in power.
As my right hon. Friend will know, the UK has a strong commitment and duty to implement international law, but on this matter we have been absolutely clear. I can certainly assure her that we will not sign up to any IHR amendment or any other instrument that would compromise the UK’s ability to make domestic decisions on national measures concerning public health.
Should the UK Government wish to accept an IHR amendment, changes to domestic law to reflect proposed obligations may indeed be required. The Government would therefore prepare draft legislation and bring it before Parliament in the usual way. Let me repeat that in all circumstances, the sovereignty of the UK Parliament would remain unchanged and the UK would retain control of any future decisions around national public health measures.