Following the announcement of the Government’s intention to hold an inquiry into infected blood on 11 July, I am writing to update the House on progress.
Bishop James Jones, former Chair of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and Chair of the Gosport Independent Panel, had a telephone meeting with the all-party parliamentary group on haemophilia and contaminated blood and a number of the campaign groups on 27 July. Following this meeting, the Bishop informed the Department of Health of the request to remove the 18 August deadline for views on the format and scope of the upcoming independent inquiry. The Government also heard this view from the correspondence we have received. It is important that the inquiry is informed by the views of the people who have been affected by contaminated blood.
The Government have therefore decided to extend the deadline to 18 October 2017, to ensure that we hear as many opinions as possible. The Government have written to the beneficiaries of the payment schemes directly to inform them of this change. We are grateful to those who have already sent their views; these will be taken into consideration.
We are also aware of the requests from some stakeholders to move the sponsorship of the inquiry to another Government Department. We can confirm that this is being considered as part of the consultation and that no decision has yet been taken on sponsorship.
The Government will provide a further update to the House after the consultation closes on 18 October.