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 Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) 11:00 am, 25th March 2004

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for giving me the opportunity to clarify the issue. My understanding of the position in Ireland, which has been corroborated by officials in the Department of Health and Children in Dublin since my last utterances on the subject in the House, is that the Irish Government set up their hepatitis C compensation scheme following evidence of negligence by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service. A judicial inquiry, the Finlay report, found that "wrongful acts were committed". It is important to stress that the blood services in the UK have not been found to be similarly at fault. Compensation is therefore being given in very different, specific circumstances in Ireland that do not apply in the UK. I do not believe that the Irish scheme creates any precedent for us.

The awards being made in Canada follow a class action brought against the Canadian Government. The compensation from the federal government is limited to those infected between 1986 and 1990. Subsequent inquiries found that wrongful practices had been employed, and criminal charges were made against organisations including the Canadian Red Cross Society. Those conditions in Ireland and Canada do not apply in the UK.