Second Reading

Part of Contaminated Blood (Support for Infected and Bereaved Persons) Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 12:20 pm on 11th December 2009.

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Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Labour 12:20 pm, 11th December 2009

Absolutely. My noble and learned friend reminds me of that incident and the complaints made about it at the time. That may be possible, but, nevertheless, the Government argued for all those years that the information was not there and then, all of a sudden, it becomes available. In other words, they had not applied good administration rules, knowing that an inquiry was being set up which had a good degree of parliamentary support, even though it was unofficial. They refused to give evidence. Then to search for documents and produce them when it was too late to take evidence on them begs the question.

I wish my noble friend well with the Bill. He introduces it at a good time in the parliamentary process. It would have a fair wind if people in the other place got up off their knees and looked at particular issues on behalf of individual citizens-not many thousands of them, there are only a few, but that is what counts, little things mean a lot. If you get the little things right, the chances are that people believe you on the bigger things. There is a good opportunity if the Bill can leave this House and go to the other place before an election is called. As the noble Lord, Lord Low, just said, one does not know: the possibility in the wash-up is enormous. If people want to salvage reputations, that is good.

My noble friend who will reply to this debate has been very good on this issue but, nevertheless, she is going to have a miserable time-not today, but whoever is on that Bench, whether they be the Whip or the Minister, will have a miserable time both before and after the election unless this matter is seen to be dealt with seriously. The impression is being given that the matter will go away, that they are not bothered. Having a Bill in front of us gives us something to get our teeth into and to push for. Whatever the result of the election-it would be nice to get the Bill through beforehand and, as I said, I do not rule that out-if there is any real backbone in the management of the government machine, if whoever is the Prime Minister really wants to deal with this issue, I give them a solution. You send back to the Department of Health an ex-Minister. You find somebody-there are enough of them around on both sides of the House. You send someone back-the civil servants' worst nightmare, a Minister who returns-with the avowed instruction from the Prime Minister to get this sorted.

That can apply whatever the result of the election, because there is a serious issue here. The worry will be: will other similar issues be dealt with in the same way? The fact is that this is now a festering sore. Now that a Bill has appeared, it will keep festering. I use language somewhat more extreme than my noble friend, but he made it quite clear that this is not the NHS at its best, and he will go on, and on, and on. As long as he does that, I will be with him.