MPs ask inquiry to quiz ministers again
Written by Jessica Bomford, May 12, 2023
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood (APPG) will write to Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, urging him to compel key ministers and officials to give evidence about how and when the government intends to pay compensation.
At a meeting on 10 May, the APPG heard updates and opinions from people infected and affected by contaminated blood products. There was great concern at the lack of information coming from the government on the recommendations on compensation which were made by Sir Brian in a report published on 5 April 2023.
Dame Diana Johnson MP, co-chair of the APPG, said although the government kept saying it was working ‘at pace’ to respond to Sir Brian’s recommendations on compensation, it was unclear what this meant. An urgent explanation was needed, she said.
Action to be taken
The APPG resolved to take the following actions:
- Write to Sir Brian, asking him to call government witnesses back to the inquiry to give an update on compensation
- Submit a series of Urgent Questions on compensation in the House of Commons
- Try to secure a debate on compensation in the House of Commons
- Bombard ministers with questions
- Hold another meeting before MPs’ summer break, probably in July
Jason Evans, founder of the campaign group Factor 8, also made the point that Sir Brian had the power to compel documents to be revealed, which could also help to shed light on what discussions are taking place within government about setting up a compensation scheme.
Matt Hancock, then Health Secretary, told the inquiry when he gave evidence in May 2021 that the government would pay compensation if it was recommended by Sir Brian. In a statement to MPs last month, the Paymaster General, Jeremy Quin MP, said the government accepted ‘moral responsibility’ for what happened, but did not say if the government accepted Sir Brian’s compensation recommendations. The co-chairs of the APPG, Dame Diana and Sir Peter Bottomley MP, are due to meet Mr Quin for an update.
Rosemary Calder told the group about her son Nicky, who would have celebrated his 49th birthday on the day of the meeting. She described the devastating impact of his death in 1999, at the age of 25, following his infection with HIV as a child.
Important points raised
Other points made at the meeting included:
- the urgent need to improve HIV care for women
- the urgent need to provide specialist palliative care
- a group litigation action against the government, which has been paused while the inquiry is in process, may soon resume
- the traumatising impact of the inquiry, which has been a ‘massive ordeal’ for some participants
- the need for people infected to have their voices heard, without being filtered by ‘gatekeepers’
- the sacrifices of people who have cared for loved ones must be recognised
- concern at recent media reports that the Department for Health and Social Care appears to be involved in decisions on compensation, despite being investigated by the inquiry
- government should communicate directly with everyone registered on an infected blood support scheme to update them on progress
- a registration scheme should be set up for anyone who thinks they may be eligible for compensation
- Haemophilia Wales is in favour of a central government-funded, arms-length body to administer compensation.
We will update you when there are any developments resulting from the meeting.