Government could face Commons defeat over compensation for victims of infected blood

The government is likely to suffer a defeat in the Commons after Labor joined Tory rebels in backing calls for a new body to help compensate victims of infected blood.

In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of patients became infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products.

MPs led by Labour’s Dame Diana Johnson (Kingston North, Hull) backed an amendment requiring ministers to establish a body to administer the full amount of the Victims and Prisoners Bill within three months of it becoming law. Compensation Plan.

A High Court judge will chair the body and will consider victims’ needs for speed, simplicity, fairness and efficiency.

A total of 30 Conservative MPs have signed up to the amendment, which will be considered in the House of Commons on Monday, while shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves also confirmed Labour’s support.

The independent inquiry into the scandal was due to release its final report this autumn, but due to the “volume and scale of the material” the document will now be released in March 2024.

Recently appointed Cabinet Office minister John Glenn said last month that the government “accepts the moral case for compensation” but that the inquiry’s final report “will only make sense if the response is fully informed”.

Under preliminary plans, only victims themselves or bereaved partners will receive interim payments of around £100,000.

In a letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Ms Reeves said: “The infected blood scandal is one of the most shocking tragedies in our country’s recent history.

“This week we have an opportunity to work together to bring justice to the victims.

“Blood infected with hepatitis C and HIV steals lives, denies opportunities and damages livelihoods.”

Ms Reeves said it was estimated that one person affected by infected blood dies “every four days”, adding: “This bill provides the opportunity to enshrine into law the steps that can be taken now to start providing for those affected by the disease.” those who seek justice.

“That is why I am writing to inform you that Labor will support new Section 27 introduced by my colleague and friend Dame Diana Johnson to establish a body to administer the compensation scheme for victims of the infected blood scandal.

“This is an important moment to show that the House of Commons supports the implementation of a compensation scheme and the delivery of justice principles.

Kevin Brennan MP, Labour’s shadow minister for victims and sentencing, has also proposed new section 42, which would require the government to respond to the final report of the independent infected blood inquiry within a fixed period of 25 days.

“This is not a party political issue. We all have a responsibility to take immediate action to address this historic wrong.

“This includes working with the devolved governments on a cross-party basis to develop the final compensation package.”

Sunday with Laura KuenssbergSunday with Laura Kuenssberg

Health Minister Victoria Atkins appears with Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday (Victoria Jones/PA)

Asked if she supported the creation of a body to administer compensation, health secretary Victoria Atkins told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “So I’m very familiar with this situation because I have a constituent I’ve worked with for many years who has been affected by this.

“What we have done so far is obviously we have conducted an investigation and given interim findings. Importantly we have made interim payments to the victims affected by the scandal itself.

“But we are right to take our time and wait for the report, but we also have to consider the consequences of whether legislation is needed.”

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