Black Country MP and former Defence Minister John Spellar attacked the Government for failing to provide British soldiers with Coronavirus vaccines before deploying overseas.
Responding to an Urgent Question on the matter in Parliament, Spellar – who serves as vice-chair of the Defence Committee – attacked the ‘pitiful’ response of Defence Ministers, whom he claimed simply ‘went along with’ civil service bureaucrats, rather than standing up for British soldiers. Spellar asked “why did our Defence Ministers not show some backbone by standing up for our troops and insisting on vaccines before deployment, if necessary forcing a decision for the Prime Minister?”
John Spellar: We are all aware of the rigid, dogmatic vaccination policies of the Health Department bureaucrats and the utter failure of the Health Ministers to inject some common sense—they really are hopeless—but the Minister’s pitiful response today shows that Defence Ministers have meekly gone along with this. So the real question is why did our Defence Ministers not show some backbone by standing up for our troops and insisting on vaccines before deployment, if necessary forcing a decision for the Prime Minister? Can the Minister explain that failure?
James Heappey: I think I have answered the question already. We made the case for priority vaccination for those whom we felt needed to be vaccinated because it was unrealistic to vaccinate them other than as a priority right at the start of vaccination programmes—the nuclear deterrent quick reaction alert aircrew for example. Thereafter it was perfectly possible to safely vaccinate members of the armed forces in line with their age cohort, and the correct judgment was made in prioritising those who were more elderly and vulnerable at home.