The Infected Blood Inquiry

Part of 4. Topical Questions – in the Senedd at 3:42 pm on 22 May 2024.

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Photo of Sam Rowlands Sam Rowlands Conservative 3:42, 22 May 2024

Let me join colleagues and thank Mabon ap Gwynfor for raising this here today, and join the Cabinet Secretary too in paying credit to all those who have campaigned on this issue over the years. I also join the Cabinet Secretary in her words of clarity, by outlining that this scandal is one of the greatest failures of the British state, and also to reflect on the words from Sir Brian Langstaff, who wrote the report. He chose to use the word 'calamity', but, in truth, there are no words that can wholly sum up the tragedy that has taken place over decades, including the disgraceful cover-ups from senior people in the national health service, Government ministries and the civil service. The awful attitude towards victims, the callousness with which they were treated, is certainly beyond a calamity in my book.

They were, as we know, infected with contaminated blood, and then effectively gaslit by the authorities who covered it up every step of the way. There are so many innocent people who have suffered needlessly. Certainly, our thoughts are with them and their loved ones. We know that, in Wales, around 400 people are known to be infected, but we also know that this is unlikely to be the full number. The report that we are discussing today was clear in its criticisms of the UK and Welsh Governments, so I certainly welcome the formal apologies from both Governments to the victims. We must ensure that situations like this are never allowed to happen again, and that the groupthink and the secrecy that encourages cover-ups—the points that Mabon ap Gwynfor mentioned—are eradicated once and for all.

A number of us here today so far have mentioned the Prime Minister's commitment to a comprehensive compensation package. So, a question on that point first, Cabinet Secretary, just to join with colleagues also in terms of the timing of that. I wonder if you have any concerns, initially, about the speed. You said 90 days, but do you have any concerns that that will not be met? Are there any issues or barriers that may be in place to stop that happening sooner rather than later? And, then, just to again make the point on the secrecy and cover-up culture that seemed to come through in this report, I wonder, Cabinet Secretary, are there any proactive measures that you'll be considering to ensure that public bodies in Wales don't engage in that culture of secrecy and cover-ups, so that these tragedies don't happen again?