It is normal practice when a Government Department proposes to make a gift of a value exceeding £300,000, for the Department concerned to present to the House of Commons a minute giving particulars of the gift and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the gift until 14 parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.
I am writing to inform you that while Parliament was in recess the Department of Health and Social Care has started to donate approximately 30,000 doses of surplus covid vaccines to Barbados and Antigua & Barbuda. The combined value of these donations exceeds £300,000 and the donations will be accounted for as gifts since both countries are not eligible for official development assistance (ODA).
I want to take this opportunity to explain that we proceeded with these donations as a matter of urgency. The doses were surplus to the requirements of our domestic vaccination programme and were requested urgently by the recipient countries, including to vaccinate children before schools returned during September. Donating these doses with maximum available shelf life meant that they could be used rather than expiring and having to be destroyed.
The Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Care has written to the Chairs of the Public Accounts Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee to notify them of these gifts. This statement provides retrospective notification to the House of Commons.
HM Treasury has approved the decision.