Hepatitis C

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:43 pm on 12th March 2002.

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Photo of Baroness Gardner of Parkes Baroness Gardner of Parkes Conservative 7:43 pm, 12th March 2002

My Lords, I have given notice that I wish to speak in the gap. As is the tradition, I shall be brief. I arrived late today and when I rang to put my name down for the debate I found that I had just missed the deadline. When I saw that one of the speakers had dropped out of the debate I realised that it was a good opportunity for me to say a few words.

There is very little I can add to what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Morris; he has covered the issue very thoroughly. One point that he did not raise is that if you have hepatitis and haemophilia, there is no way that you can obtain life insurance. This is highly relevant and is particularly related to the title of his unstarred Question, which refers to the dependants of those who have died.

Haemophilia is extremely distressing, not only to those who suffer from it but to their families. Hepatitis C is also a terrible burden. I support the view of the noble Lord, Lord Morris, that recombinant Factor H should be available for everyone. That is particularly desirable if there is a risk of BSE—which becomes new variant CJD in humans—being transmitted through blood transfusions and blood products. At the moment, no one seems to know what is the position in that regard, but the recombinant factor, which is totally synthetic, would mean that there would be no risk whatever of being infected. That is a very important point.

I shall not take up any more of your Lordships' time. I merely wish to indicate my strong support for the unstarred Question tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Morris.