Hepatitis C

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:00 am on 25th March 2004.

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Photo of Lord Morris of Manchester Lord Morris of Manchester Labour 11:00 am, 25th March 2004

My Lords, while again I acknowledge the breakthrough achieved by John Reid's announcement of the scheme, can my noble friend say what it will cost and from which budget or budgets? Meanwhile, how can any of us justify excluding widows? Is not theirs the cruellest loss, having seen a husband and father die what my noble friend Lord Winston describes as a,

"slow, agonising death from cirrhosis or liver cancer due entirely to contaminated NHS blood products"?

Infected with hepatitis C, they were denied life assurance, and the onset of liver disease forced many into early retirement, so impoverishing their families. Where is the natural justice in including widows in the existing ex gratia scheme for HIV infection, while excluding them from this scheme? And where is the morality in denying parity of treatment to widows in identically the same tragic position?