Penrose Inquiry

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Business, Innovation and Skills – in the House of Commons am 11:19 am ar 26 Mawrth 2015.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 11:19, 26 Mawrth 2015

I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman’s last point. This is a tragedy that goes beyond party and has spanned many Parliaments now and we do need to move forward. I can only reiterate my frustration at the fact that we were not able to make more progress in this Parliament, but I can give the assurance to the House, and through Members to their constituents, that a great deal of detailed work has been going on, and I am sure it will continue as the many pages of Lord Penrose’s inquiry are considered.

With regard to the one recommendation that Lord Penrose makes—that the Scottish Government take all reasonable steps to offer a hepatitis C test to everyone who had a blood transfusion before 1991—I can confirm that the Department of Health concluded a UK-wide look-back exercise in 1995 to try to identify everyone who might have received infected blood prior to 1991, but the Department will consider if anything more can be done on this in England. That work is very important and will be undertaken.

On the next steps, as confirmed in the written ministerial statement yesterday, all relevant documents have been, or will be, released. The Government’s initial reaction is that another inquiry would not be in the best interests of sufferers and their families as it would further delay action to address their concerns. The strong message I have had is that it is time for action, and I have just heard the same message from the shadow Secretary of State.

The apparent thoroughness of Lord Penrose’s report and the fact that it sets the events in Scotland in a wider UK context gives us a sense of the fact that he has looked at these events in the widest possible way, including for England. He has done a thorough job of examining the facts, and we now for the first time ever have that detailed authoritative narrative account of what happened, and that is an important building block on which the next Government can take their policy forward.