My Lords, it gives me no pleasure, funnily enough, to oppose the Conservative Government whom I support, but I have to say that I am concerned. I am also rather concerned that a lot of people have said that it is wrong or even disgraceful to put down an amendment to something and that we should in some way blindly follow, to use the words of my noble friend Lord Dobbs, the Government and not question them and ask them to justify what they are doing—which is what I am doing.
My noble friend Lord Cormack referred to this being the second Chamber. Surely the second Chamber of Parliament should be doing something useful about asking the Government whether they have got it right. The noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, accused me of being extremist—I think that was the term she used. I do not think it extremist to ask to see the evidence on which government policy is based, and that is really what I am saying.
I do not pretend that this has been easy for the Government; it has been extremely difficult for them. They are under huge pressure, and international pressure as well. I do not doubt either that Covid is an extremely unpleasant disease that is killing people. I believe that I have had it. The ultimate irony would be if, having had three vaccinations, I caught it again over Christmas. I hope that that would bring a wry smile to some of those who have opposed me rather than anything else, but of course it would be an ultimate irony—I could easily do it; apparently, we can catch it a second time.
I of course agree with the Minister about being pragmatic, but I want a proportionate response and I do not think that “Covid passports”, as I call them, are a proportionate response. The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said we should not divide the House if we are not going to win. Well, I want to register concern, and a lot of people would wish to register concern with this government policy. I am not satisfied with it. So I shall divide the House on what the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, referred to as a “chocolate teapot”. But before I do so, perhaps I may also wish a happy Christmas particularly to my noble friend the Minister and those on the Front Bench, as well as to those opposite, some of whom have not entirely agreed with me today or in the past.
Never? Well, actually I thought the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, was going to agree about the importance of having the debate—but obviously not. I wish to test the opinion of the House.
Ayes 38, Noes 205.