My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer given by the Minister for the Constitution to an Urgent Question in another place. The Statement is as follows:
“The contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s was an appalling tragedy that should never have happened. Victims and their families have endured so much pain and hardship and they deserve answers about how this could have happened. I am grateful to the honourable Lady for bringing this issue to the House today, and for her leadership, alongside the honourable Member for Worthing West, Sir Peter Bottomley, of the all-party parliamentary group, which has done such consistent and constructive work on this issue.
As honourable Members will know, following the Prime Minister’s announcement in July last year that there would be an inquiry into these terrible events, the Department of Health launched a consultation on what the form and scope of that inquiry should be. I would like to thank all those who contributed to that process: we understand how difficult and painful describing these events must have been. The responses to that consultation were carefully considered by Cabinet Office officials. As a result, we confirmed that the inquiry would be statutory, established under the Inquiries Act, and we moved the sponsorship of the inquiry from the Department of Health to the Cabinet Office.
Before Christmas, we announced that the inquiry would be chaired by a judge. We have asked the Lord Chief Justice to provide us with a nomination. We hope to announce the name of that judge very soon. Once the appointment has been announced, the Cabinet Office will have early discussions with the chair about setting up the inquiry, and will encourage the chair to quickly hold further consultation with the affected communities over the inquiry’s terms of reference.
Finally, I want to reiterate again that I, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and the Prime Minister are determined that those affected by this appalling tragedy will get the answers they deserve”.