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Infected Blood Compensation: Funding

Volume 745: debated on Tuesday 6 February 2024

11. Whether he has had recent discussions with Cabinet colleagues on funding for a UK-wide infected blood compensation scheme. (901369)

13. Whether he has had discussions with Cabinet colleagues on the potential cost to the Exchequer of compensation for people infected and affected by contaminated blood and blood products. (901372)

This is an appalling tragedy, and my thoughts remain with all those affected. We understand the strength of feeling, and the need for action. The Government have accepted the moral case for compensation, and have acknowledged that justice needs to be delivered for victims. As such, the Government intend to respond in full to Sir Brian Langstaff’s recommendations for wider compensation following the publication of the inquiry’s final report in May this year.

The Minister’s answering that question has brought forth another question. The Chancellor was previously Secretary of State in the Department of Health, and three of his former colleagues all gave a commitment to address the issue. Now that the Chancellor is in a position to do something about that, how long is it going to take? As this Government’s days are numbered, the difficulty I have is whether this will be in place before we have an election. Will they ensure that the commitment is there?

I know that the hon. Gentleman has a lifelong friend who has suffered from this terrible tragedy, and I can reassure him that we are determined to do right by the victims and those who have tragically lost their loved ones. The victims of the infected blood scandal deserve justice and recognition. On his question on timing, Governments of all colours have failed to sort this out, but I am pleased that the interim payments at least have been paid. As I have said, the Government are committed to the moral case for compensation and we are expecting the final report very soon. We will move as quickly as possible afterwards.

We have had Sir Brian Langstaff’s recommendations since April 2023. Mrs Dorricott, the wife of the Chancellor’s constituent Mike, told the inquiry that the Chancellor, when he was Health Secretary, told Mr Dorricott:

“Don’t worry about this, we’ll sort it.”

He is now the Chancellor, with his hands on the purse strings, so will he now—through his colleague the Chief Secretary to the Treasury—confirm that the Government have identified the contingencies to pay the compensation to the people hit by the infected blood scandal?

I can confirm that we are working with the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that we can respond as quickly as possible once the inquiry reports.