Contaminated Blood and Blood Products

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:14 pm on 24th November 2016.

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Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Conservative, North East Bedfordshire 12:14 pm, 24th November 2016

Yes, I will. I will turn to those who are co-infected, but staying on discretionary payments for a moment, I just think that the position was not clear enough. As the trusts were administered separately and not by the Department, I do not think that there was full awareness that the discretionary payments had become a fixed part of people’s income. There is much more awareness of that now, and dealing with this is essential because people are extremely worried as they do not see such payments specifically included in the scheme, and I hope that they will be part of it.

I would also like a small amount of money to be made available for some of the things thrown up through the system that are not recognised. I am thinking in particular of a family in which two young boys lost their father and two uncles, and were taken into care. Their lives were changed hugely because of that. There is no part of the scheme that fits the agonies that they went through, so I wonder whether there could be some recognition of that, with a small part of the fund kept for unusual circumstances.

I must reiterate my determination that there should be some form of inquiry into what has happened. We know—it is on record—the sense of scandal about this. We have heard from former Ministers, including Lord Owen, who made a speech relatively recently in which he was very clear about what happened. He spoke about ministerial documents being “scrapped” and said:

“I have become convinced that there has been a cleaning-up of documents”,

and that

“there was a decision to clean up all the files and stop some of the incriminating evidence”.

Given that this major issue has led to so many deaths and so much misery, and that people know that something went wrong, it cannot be right that there is still not a public space so that the people affected can know what happened.

The inquiry process worked well for Hillsborough and Bloody Sunday, although we know that the position is currently clouded by what is happening with the child abuse inquiry. I do not think that a full public inquiry is necessarily the only vehicle to deal with this, but there needs to be some way for the Department to answer in a way that it has not done up to now, which it cannot do through the mere revealing of documents. It remains essential that we press for such a process.