Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)
I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to improve the diagnosis and treatment of persons who have suffered or continue to suffer ill effects from Covid-19 vaccines; to make provision about financial assistance to persons who have suffered disablement following vaccination against Covid-19 and to the next of kin of persons who have died shortly after vaccination against Covid-19; to require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on the merits of a no-fault compensation scheme to provide such financial assistance, on whether there should be any upper limit on the financial assistance available, on the criteria for eligibility and on whether payment should be made in all cases where there is no other reasonable cause for the death or disablement suffered; and for connected purposes.
This Bill is not about the tens of millions of people in the United Kingdom who have benefited from the vaccination programme; it is about the tens of thousands for whom the harm caused by the vaccines is greater than the benefit. The specific focus of this Bill is on the families of those who tragically died or suffered severe injury or life-changing conditions as a result of doing their public duty and being vaccinated.
The issue at stake is one of trust. To their credit, the Government recognised that some people might be adversely affected by the vaccines, so they extended the provisions of the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979 to enable those who suffer vaccine damage causing at least 60% disablement to receive an ex gratia lump-sum payment of £120,000.
The 1979 Act, however, is not working. No payments have yet been made under its provisions, even in respect of those whom a coroner’s verdict found to have died because of the vaccine. The impatience and frustration of those so affected is now palpable. Having lost their loved ones more than a year ago, some have been badgering the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), for action—I am pleased to see her on the Front Bench. I understand that yesterday she blocked vaccine victims on her Twitter account, and today she closed her Twitter account completely. This is an indication of the strength of feeling among the public.
Experience shows that we need bespoke legislation to provide timely redress to those who suffered as a result of doing the right thing. Indeed, the Prime Minister was right to draw attention to this issue when, on 11 August 2021, he wrote to Kate Scott, whose husband Jamie, a fit 44-year-old software engineer, spent 124 days in hospital following severe brain injury caused by the vaccine. Jamie and his family are from Warwickshire, and I am delighted that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright) is here to support the Bill. The Prime Minister said:
“You are not a statistic and must not be ignored.”
He went on to thank Kate Scott for her suggested changes to the vaccine damage payments scheme and promised that the Government would consider the case for reform. This Bill is my contribution to the Prime Minister’s call for consideration of reform.
This Bill is not just about the payment process; it is also about diagnosis and treatment for those patients who have suffered or continue to suffer ill effects from the vaccines. The current situation is totally inadequate, which is why the Bill places a duty on the Secretary of State to improve both diagnosis and treatment.
Those who were in perfect health before their vaccine have encountered too much ignorance and scepticism when seeking medical help. For some, their general practitioner has refused to engage, to the extent that they are made to feel gaslighted, with their physical pain being dismissed or explained away as mental illness. How insulting and humiliating is that, and how at odds with the principles of the national health service?
The Bill also makes provision about financial assistance to those who have suffered disablement following vaccination against covid-19 and to the next of kin of those who have died. An ex gratia payment of £120,000 is available, but this has not been increased for 15 years and needs to be raised to £177,000 to keep up with inflation. Even that would fall far short of the compensation that should be available for the most serious life-limiting injuries, which is why the Bill calls on the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on whether there should be any upper limit at all. Other jurisdictions have taken the view that fully compensating those who do the right thing for public health reasons by having a vaccine should be looked after by the state if the consequences of having that vaccine result in disability or injury. That approach is taken in order to promote vaccine confidence among those who might otherwise be hesitant about having a vaccine. This Government’s approach, however, seems to be to try to promote vaccine confidence by covering up the adverse consequences for some of having been vaccinated. The Secretary of State’s report under this provision would also address the 60% disability threshold, which is a major constraint of the current system. Why should somebody who is 50% disabled as a result of vaccine damage be ineligible for any payment? Is there not a strong case for relating the payments made to the extent of the disability suffered? There is much public concern that the Government are going to use lack of proven causation as an excuse for not making payments under the scheme. Should the test therefore not be whether there is any other reasonable explanation for the disablement or death suffered?
The scale of this is enormous, and I do not think the Government have come to terms with that; more than 450,000 yellow cards have been submitted to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency detailing adverse reactions to covid-19 vaccines. That number is an underestimate of the actual number of people adversely affected, which may be 4.5 million or more. I adduce what the MHRA said on 17 May 2019:
“only 10% of serious reactions and between 2% and 4% of non-serious reactions are reported”
under the yellow card scheme. The MHRA says that those figures do not apply now, but it has not said what figures do.
This Bill cannot make progress on its own in this Session, as prorogation is set for 29 April, but it is and can be a catalyst for Government action. I welcome the agreement of the vaccines Minister to meet me on 19 April, and I look forward to that meeting. I also welcome very much the Secretary of State’s promise to respond in writing in full to the points raised in my Adjournment debate on 2 March. He promised to do that before the recess, but we have not yet had that response. My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns) is also yet to receive the outcome she was promised in that debate. I have also asked for answers to all my outstanding parliamentary questions, of which there are probably about a dozen. Today, at 12.55 pm, two were answered—they came in just as I was leaving my office. Picking up on just two of those answers shows how the Government are still in denial about the importance and extent of this issue. I was asking why the cases of people who have already been found to have died as a result of the vaccination cannot be processed automatically for the claims. The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) said in her answer:
“The NHS Business Service Authority has requested that the relevant authorities provide medical records”.
But I also have correspondence here from somebody who directly corresponded with that authority and was informed that it was trying to get the Ministers to change their policy so that they could have a much less bureaucratic response. So we have a situation where the Minister is blaming the service authority and it is blaming the Minister, and the victims of these vaccine damage incident are the ones suffering. Those victims are not going to go away and nor is this issue, and I hope that the Government are going to address it.
Question put and agreed to.
That Sir Christopher Chope, Hannah Bardell, Mr Peter Bone, Miriam Cates, Philip Davies, Richard Drax, Esther McVey, Nigel Mills, Jim Shannon, Sir Desmond Swayne, Mr William Wragg and Jeremy Wright present the Bill.
Sir Christopher Chope accordingly presented the Bill.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 6 May, and to be printed (Bill 295).
Business of the House (Today)
That at this day’s sitting:
(1) notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 16 (1) (Proceedings under an Act or on European Union documents), proceedings on the Motions (a) in the name of Secretary Dominic Raab relating to the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Delay in Expiry: Inquests, Courts and Tribunals, and Statutory Sick Pay) (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2022 (SI, 2022, No. 362) and (b) in the name of Secretary Sajid Javid relating to the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Review of Temporary Provisions) (No. 4), shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 90 minutes after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order; the Speaker shall then put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on those Motions forthwith;
(2) notwithstanding paragraph (2)(c)(i) of Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business), business in the name of the Leader of the Opposition may be entered upon at any hour and may be proceeded with, though opposed, for three hours, proceedings shall then lapse if not previously disposed of; and proceedings on these items of business may continue, though opposed, after the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply.—(Mark Spencer.)