The Government seek parliamentary authority for their spending plans through supply procedure. Occasionally, expenditure on some services is so urgent that it cannot await normal procedure. The Contingencies Fund enables the Treasury to make repayable cash advances to Departments for urgent services, and Treasury officials assess cases on the basis of criteria set out in Treasury guidance.
Extra support being consulted on for contaminated blood victims is coming from the Department of Health’s budget, where there is simply not enough money, yet previously central contingency funds have been used to deal with national scandals such as Equitable Life. Before the spending review, 18 MPs, from six parties, wrote to the Chancellor suggesting that the £230 million the Treasury was getting from the sale of the blood products company could fund a fair settlement for contaminated blood victims. We have had no reply, so will the Minister look at this again?
I thank the hon. Lady for that question. I will ensure that she gets a reply, which she deserves, because this is a deeply distressing issue and the Government take it very seriously indeed. I do not believe it is appropriate to use the Contingencies Fund in this particular case. She will know that the consultation on the reform of financial support to those affected closed on 15 April, and we will be replying in due course. Meanwhile, the Department of Health has identified additional money—£100 million from its budget—for these purposes. This is in addition to the £22.5 million that it spends on this annually, as well as the further £25 million announced in March 2015. These steps will more than double the support.