Conservative MP Dr Phillip Lee has defended his failed amendment to the Immigration Bill that would have allowed Home Secretary Theresa May to test migrants for HIV and Hepatitis B.
In an article for The Independent’s website, Dr Lee, a former doctor and the Conservative MP for Bracknell, said: “I tabled an amendment to the Immigration Bill this week [sic] to protect our public health from the risk of communicable diseases – specifically blood-borne viruses like hepatitis B and HIV.
“We need to know who carries these diseases if we are to treat them, stop the diseases from spreading and, ultimately, eliminate them. These are the first steps – along with prevention measures and, where possible, cures – towards the goal of eradication.”
The MP added: “In 2012, we introduced a screening programme for immigrants to the UK from countries with a high incidence of tuberculosis before they could be granted a visa for entry. We should now do the same for hepatitis B, HIV and other blood-borne diseases.”
Another former GP, the Conservative MP for Totnes, Dr Sarah Wollaston, also supported the proposal, along with 16 other MPs – all Conservatives.
However, the amendment provoked cross party condemnation.
It would have amounted to mandatory HIV and Hep B testing for migrants, requiring applicants to “demonstrate” that they are not carriers of either pathogens.
Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert described it as “astonishing”.
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Chris Bryant tweeted that it was a discriminatory idea.
In a statement to PinkNews.co.uk, NAT Chief Executive Deborah Jack said: “The UK has for 30 years resisted entry restrictions and to introduce them at this stage would set us squarely against the international trend to overturn such rules. This is HIV prejudice in its purest form.”
The Home Office told PinkNews.co.uk that the amendment did not reflect existing government policy and that it had no plans to introduce health screening for conditions such as HIV or hepatitis.
Officials stated that the UK had also signed up to the June 2011 UN Declaration on HIV and AIDS, which encourages member states to eliminate HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence.