Covid-19 (Vaccination Certification Scheme Costs)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 27 April 2022.

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Photo of Craig Hoy Craig Hoy Conservative

4. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the total costs of the Covid-19 vaccine certification scheme. (S6O-00993)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Scotland’s Covid certification scheme was an important part of our domestic response to Covid-19. The app continues to be a vital part of supporting people to travel internationally, given that the scheme also provides Covid-19 status.

I confirm that the Scottish Government has directly allocated more than £7 million to date. I have asked my officials to place a table of that breakdown in the Scottish Parliament information centre.

Photo of Craig Hoy Craig Hoy Conservative

So, John Swinney wasted £7 million on a domestic Covid passport scheme, which was quietly switched off by the Scottish National Party Government last week. The Deputy First Minister was warned that domestic certification would not work, that it breached data protection laws, and that it would damage business and cost jobs. Will the Deputy First Minister now say that he is sorry to the businesses that were damaged and for the jobs that were lost, and will he apologise to the Scottish people for wasting £30,000 a day of their money on his botched scheme?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

What a lot of absolute baloney—by Mr Hoy’s standards, it is a colossal amount of baloney.

Mr Hoy must surely understand the basics of this point: regardless of its domestic application, the Covid status app was necessary to enable people to travel from Scotland to other countries. Surely the Conservatives must understand that point. The costs that have been incurred were necessary to enable us to produce an app that would allow Scottish people to visit other countries. If the Conservatives are saying that they did not want people in Scotland to have an app that allowed them to travel internationally, that is an interesting message. I would be fascinated to know whether any Conservative members have used their app for international travel in the past few weeks and months. It would be fascinating to have an answer to that question.

As for the Government “quietly” making an announcement about the domestic app, the Government published its stance on the domestic app openly and transparently, just as it always does in relation to our policy agenda.

Photo of Willie Coffey Willie Coffey Scottish National Party

Given that a number of countries still require proof of vaccination before allowing individuals to enter, will the Deputy First Minister confirm that the app will continue to operate to ensure that people in Scotland can continue to travel internationally without issues?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

As I delicately explained to Mr Hoy, the app was originally designed to be used for international travel, and we expect that the app will continue to be required for that purpose until at least June 2023. To repeat the point in case the Conservatives did not understand it, the app enables people from Scotland to travel to other countries and to access venues, because countless other countries require individuals to demonstrate their Covid vaccination status in order to gain entry.