Lariam

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:28 pm on 27th October 2016.

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Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Chair, Defence Sub-Committee 3:28 pm, 27th October 2016

I absolutely agree that the single point of failure was that we had a drug that, like any drug—even paracetamol or Anadin—should be used within the guidelines set down by the manufacturer, but instead of people being given it carefully, in a medical fashion, with individual risk assessments as stipulated by Roche, Lariam was just handed out on parade. Clearly, that is not the way to do business. The hon. Lady is right. I am glad that we have identified that practice, and I believe that we have put a stop to it. That is a good thing to have come out of the report.

We now need to ensure that we look after those who come forward. There are conversations about compensation and things like that—I understand that that is the way of the world—but that is never the intent behind inquiries such as this. I am interested in looking after those who are going through the process. We must get those who come forward some sort of treatment. We must provide some point of contact that is not just known by me, other MPs and those within Main Building. Everybody should know where they can go to get help if they feel they have been affected, and we need to show them a clear pathway.

Ultimately, we need to pay people an interest and accept that something has gone wrong. There is a slight issue within the Department—I know that everybody, including the Minister, knows this—with accepting evidence of a problem. If I have seen that in my experience as a lowly Member of Parliament, I can only imagine what it is like for families who have an issue with the Ministry of Defence to come forward. I bring that point to people’s attention and ask that we never ignore evidence of problems. We all know what soldiers are like. They are fantastic people, although if they are not moaning, something is not right, but we need to be slightly smarter and understand what they are saying so that we can identify problems before they become as big a problem as Lariam.