Archer Inquiry

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:29 pm on 1st July 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health 4:29 pm, 1st July 2009

I am happy to come to that, but the simple answer is that it is in order to allow the scheme to be operational for 10 years, so that the issue can be assessed in full. There is no intention to kick anything into the long grass; indeed, it is not possible to do so.

On the point raised earlier about the supposed withholding of documents, I can assure Members that no documents are being withheld on either policy or commercial grounds. The Department has now released all of them. Only five documents from the period 1970 to 1985 are being withheld under a freedom of information exemption, on the basis that they contain personal information.

I understand the sense of grievance and anger and the need to find out what happened and why. I also understand the feeling that someone somewhere must be to blame for what happened, whether individually or collectively. I know that for some, whatever action is taken will be too little and too late. I can assure Members that we have demonstrated our commitment to those affected and responded positively to Lord Archer’s report, to which I will come.

We continue to work to provide ever safer blood and blood products, and we are committed to helping everyone infected through contaminated blood transfusions by giving them the high-quality treatment, care and information they need to help them look after their health. We continue to provide financial relief for those infected through treatment so many years ago.