Infected Blood Compensation Scheme

– in the House of Commons am ar 21 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office 12:35, 21 Mai 2024

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement following the final report of the infected blood inquiry.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister spoke about the anguish that the infected blood scandal brought to those impacted by it. I want to reiterate his words and apologise again today. I am sorry. The Prime Minister also spoke, on behalf of the whole House, of our gratitude to Sir Brian Langstaff and his team for completing his comprehensive report—seven volumes and 2,500 pages—and of our appreciation of all those who came forward as part of the inquiry.

It was the greatest privilege of my ministerial career to meet over 40 representatives of the infected blood community, in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Leeds, as we finalised our response to compensation for this appalling tragedy. The whole community’s bravery through immense suffering is what has enabled justice today. I know that many of them will be watching from the Public Gallery. I want to honour their fortitude through their unimaginable pain, as I lay out a more detailed response to Sir Brian’s second interim report on compensation. We will provide the House with a further opportunity to debate the inquiry’s full report after the Whitsun recess. The Government will also respond to each recommendation in full, as quickly as possible, within our comprehensive response to the report.

The Prime Minister confirmed yesterday that the Government will pay comprehensive compensation to those who have been infected and affected as a result of this scandal. I will now set out to the House the scheme that the Government are proposing, and of course, more details of the scheme will be published online today. We are establishing the Infected Blood Compensation Authority—an arm’s length body—to administer the scheme. A shadow body has already been set up, and an interim chief executive officer has been appointed. Today, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Sir Robert Francis at the interim chair of the organisation. The experience and care that Sir Robert will bring to the role will ensure that the scheme is credible and trusted by the community. His support in delivering the scheme will be invaluable.

Those who have been infected or affected as a result of this scandal will receive compensation. To be crystal clear, if you have been directly or indirectly infected by NHS blood, blood products or tissue contaminated with HIV or hepatitis C, or have developed a chronic infection from blood contaminated with hepatitis B, you will be eligible to claim compensation under the scheme, and where an infected person has died but would have been eligible under those criteria, compensation will be paid to their estate. This will include where a person was infected with hepatitis B and died during the acute period of infection.

But, Mr Speaker, Sir Brian could not have been clearer: it is not just the harm caused by the infections that requires compensation. The wrongs suffered by those affected must also be compensated for, so when a person with an eligible infection has been accepted on to the scheme, their affected loved ones will be able to apply for compensation in their own right. That means that partners, parents, siblings, children, friends and family who have acted as carers for those who were infected are all eligible to claim. I am aware that being asked to provide evidence of eligibility will likely be distressing, so I am determined to minimise that distress as much as possible.

I am pleased to confirm today that anyone already registered with one of the existing infected blood support schemes will automatically be considered eligible for compensation. I also give thanks for the dedication and hard work of Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery and the other members of the expert group, who were critical in advising on how the Government could faithfully translate Sir Brian’s recommendations for the purposes of the scheme. In line with our previous commitments, we will publish the names of those experts today.

In his report, Sir Brian recommended that compensation be awarded with respect to the following five categories: an injury impact award, acknowledging the physical and mental injury caused by the infection; a social impact award, to address the stigma or social isolation resulting from the infection; an autonomy award, acknowledging how family and private life was disrupted during this time; a care award, to compensate for the past and future care needs of anyone infected; and finally a financial loss award, for past and future financial losses suffered as a result of the infection. The Government accept this recommendation with two small refinements, informed by the work of the expert group and designed for simplicity and speed, two other principles that Sir Brian asserted.

First, the care award will be directly awarded to the person with the infection, or to their estate. Secondly, the financial loss award will be paid either directly to the person with the infection, or—where an infected person has tragically died before the establishment of the scheme—to their estate and to affected persons who were dependent on them. Sadly, many people have links to multiple individuals who were infected, or were both infected themselves and affected by another’s infection. As such, multiple injury awards will be offered to reflect the scale of the loss and suffering. The scheme will be tariff-based, and we will be publishing an explanatory document on, including examples of proposed tariffs.

However, this is not the end: over the next few weeks, Sir Robert Francis will seek views from the infected blood community on the proposed scheme before its terms are set in regulations, to make sure the scheme will best serve those who it is intended for. Sir Robert has welcomed the Government’s proposals as positive and meaningful, and he will set out more details on engagement with the community shortly.

The inquiry recommended that the scheme should be flexible in its awards of compensation, providing for either a lump sum or regular payments. We agree, which is why the awards to living infected or affected persons will be offered as either a lump sum or as periodical payments. Where the infected person has died, estate representatives will receive compensation as a single lump sum to distribute to beneficiaries of the estate, as is appropriate. We will also guarantee that any payments made to those eligible will be exempt from income, capital gains and inheritance tax, as well as disregard them from means-tested benefit assessments. We will also ensure that all claimants are able to appeal against their award both through an internal review process in the Infected Blood Compensation Authority and, where needed, with a right to appeal to a first-tier tribunal. Our expectation is that final payments will start before the end of the year, and if you permit, Mr Speaker, I would like to return to the House when the regulations are laid later this year to make a further statement with an update on the delivery of the compensation scheme.

I know from my discussions with the community just how important the existing infected blood support scheme payments are to them. I recognise that many people, sadly, rely on these payments, and they are rightly keen to understand what the Government’s intentions are. I want to provide reassurance to all those out there today that no immediate changes will be made to the support schemes. Payments will continue to be made at the same level until 31 March 2025, and they will not be deducted from any of these compensation awards. From 1 April 2025, any support scheme payments received will be counted towards a beneficiary’s final compensation award. This will ensure parity between support scheme beneficiaries regardless of whether they were the first or the last to have their compensation assessed by the Infected Blood Compensation Authority. We will ensure that no one—no one—receives less in compensation than they would have received in support payments.

I recognise that each week members of the infected blood community are dying from their infections. There may be people—indeed, there will be people—listening today who are thinking to themselves that they may not live to receive compensation, so I want to address those concerns, too. Today, I am announcing that the Government will be making further interim payments ahead of the establishment of the full scheme. Payments of £210,000 will be made to living infected beneficiaries—those registered with existing infected blood support schemes as well as those who register with a support scheme before the final scheme becomes operational—and to the estates of those who pass away between now and payments being made. I know that time is of the essence, which is why I am also pleased to say that they will be delivered within 90 days, starting in the summer, so that they can reach those who most need it so urgently.

Before I conclude, I would like to turn to the matter of memorialisation. Many of those who were infected by contaminated blood or blood products have since died—died without knowing that their suffering and loss would be fully recognised either in their lifetime or at all. The lives of most of those who have died remain unrecognised. I note Sir Brian’s recommendations on memorialisation across the UK, and the Government will address those recommendations in detail as part of our wider response to this report.

In conclusion, I know that the whole House will want to join me in thanking Sir Brian and the inquiry for the work that they have done, and pay tribute to all those who have been caught up in this terrible tragedy and who have battled for justice for so long. Yesterday was a day of great humility for everyone implicated in this inquiry, and today I can only hope that, with the publication of the inquiry report and with our firm commitment to compensate those touched by this scandal, the infected blood community know that their cries for justice have been heard. I commend this statement to the House.

Several hon. Members:


Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office) 12:50, 21 Mai 2024

The infected blood scandal is one the gravest injustices in our history, and a profound moment of shame for the British state. Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition apologised on behalf of Labour Governments of the past, and the Prime Minister did the same on behalf of all Governments and the country. I join them today in saying a deep and heartfelt sorry.

The scale of the horror that was uncovered by Sir Brian Langstaff’s report almost defies belief. That is why I pay tribute to the victims of this scandal, who fought so hard for justice. We thank the charities, and the remarkable campaigning work of my right hon. Friend Dame Diana Johnson, as well as the Father of the House, and the journalist Caroline Wheeler, whose work and book, “Death in the Blood”, did so much to drive this issue forward. I also recognise the significance of the decision made by the former Prime Minister, Mrs May, in establishing the public inquiry. I thank Sir Brian Langstaff and all his staff for their forensic work. I also thank the Minister for regularly briefing me, and for his work in government ahead of today.

One of the most powerful conclusions in this report is that an apology is meaningful only if it is accompanied by action, and it is that I turn to now. I welcome the further interim payments that the Minister has announced, and I repeat our commitment to work on a cross-party basis, and help to deliver the compensation scheme and get the final money to victims as soon as possible.

I welcome the further details that the Minister has given, including the appointment of the interim chair. Sir Robert Francis is saying already that he is seeking the views of the infected blood community, and that is welcome, but does the Minister agree that continuing to hear that voice of victims is crucial?

I also welcome payments being made under the five heads of loss to the infected and the affected. Will the Minister confirm that estimates of the total cost have now been made, and that there will be no undue delay in those final payments reaching victims? Time is of the essence: one victim dies every four days. Will the Minister set out more detail about how the personal representatives of estates will be handled as part of the scheme? Will he also confirm that plans are in place to trace additional people who might be eligible for compensation? Will he say a little more about when we can expect a progress report on Sir Brian Langstaff’s other 11 recommendations, beyond the establishment of the compensation body? I add my support, and that of all Labour Members, to the consideration of appropriate and fitting memorials across the different parts of the UK and, as Sir Brian Langstaff recommends, for victims who were treated at Treloar’s.

On potential criminal charges, will the Minister ensure that all relevant evidence is made available for consideration by the prosecuting authorities and any other necessary support provided? Sir Brian Langstaff’s findings on institutional defensiveness, and on putting the reputation of people and protecting institutions above public service, follow on from other scandals such as Hillsborough and Horizon. That is why we must deliver a duty of candour and the political leadership that we need to replace that culture of defensiveness with openness and transparency. Sir Brian Langstaff’s report challenges us all to make progress on his recommendations. That is what we must now come together to do. The victims deserve nothing less.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his collegiate tone and for the constructive approach he has taken throughout our conversations and in his response this afternoon. I totally embrace the need to continue the dialogue with victims. That is why I was pleased that Sir Robert Francis agreed to take on that role, having done the study into compensation. We have obviously met a number of times, and I have explained to him what Jonathan Montgomery and the experts panel did. I am pleased that he has got to a point where he is sufficiently satisfied to move forward in this way.

As the Prime Minister made clear yesterday, there is no restriction on the budget, and where we need to pay we will pay. We will minimise delays and address the recommendations of Sir Brian Langstaff with respect to speed and efficiency, removing as much complexity as possible. The right hon. Gentleman asked about the representatives of different estates and tracing additional claimants. Those will be matters that the interim chief executive and interim chair will look at carefully. I envisage through the month of June an exercise to engage meaningfully with representatives of the communities, to look at some of the assumptions in the work of that expert panel, which will inform the regulations that we are duty bound to bring to the House within three months of the Victims and Prisoners Bill receiving Royal Assent.

Some of the other matters about appropriate memorialisation, criminal charges and duty of candour, on some of which progress is being made in different ways, are probably best left to some of my colleagues at a subsequent point. As I said, I anticipate that we will have an early opportunity to discuss those matters in full, in a debate soon after the Whitsun recess.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Father of the House of Commons

The House will understand that my remarks will be subsidiary to those of Dame Diana Johnson.

It is 36 years since I was with the first of my friends who I knew had been infected, and 33 years since that person died. Friendships got fractured, and families were changed forever.

One point that I hope my right hon. Friend the Minister will put to his fellow Ministers in the Department of Health and Social Care regards whether those who are still infected in some way can have a kind of national health service passport, so that when they go to get medical attention they are not asked the same questions that my constituents were asked every time: “How much have you been drinking? Why is your liver the way it is?” and all the rest. It is important that young clinicians understand that when they see haemophilia or a whole blood infection, they can take for granted a lot of things that do not need to be asked. That humanity needs to be spread.

I recognise that my right hon. Friend has built on the work of our right hon. Friend Sir Jeremy Quin, and perhaps I may say in a cross-party way that Sue Gray deserves respect for when she led civil servants in that, as do her successors in the civil service who are putting things right.

My final point is this: people are not being awarded lottery sums, although in some way they make up for some of the losses and recognise some of the hurt. For some families who may not have been used to having much money around—indeed, most of them are used to having very little money because of the consequences of infection—there may need to be mediation services in case they do not agree. It would be a good idea if Sir Robert, or others, could consider whether such services could be made available, in the same way that other people who have suddenly come into some degree of money can get some kind of help. Families sometimes do not find it easy to decide how money should be shared.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments, and I pay tribute to him for the work that he has done and for his constructive engagement with me over the past six months, and over many previous years. He made the point about his friend and the stigma that some of the victims have had to endure, which is why injury and social impact are reflected in the heads of loss under the scheme. He also made some observations about how better awareness of some conditions can be taken forward. I will discuss that with ministerial colleagues—several from the Department of Health and Social Care are in their places today.

My hon. Friend mentioned my immediate predecessor, my right hon. Friend Sir Jeremy Quin, but I am aware that a large number of Paymasters General—including my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who is sitting alongside me today—have done an enormous amount of work to get us to this point, along with many officials, including James Quinault, who has led the work latterly. I want to acknowledge their contribution; this is not about me.

More broadly, my hon. Friend made some wise observations about the need to ensure that, for the communities who will be given significant sums of money—rightly so, and in line with what they would be entitled to if they went through a legal process—the appropriate framework of support is in place to assist them to receive that money in a way that is not destructive to their lives.

Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration)

Yesterday was an emotional day for many of us. I am privileged to be at Central Hall with my constituents Cathy Young and her two fantastic daughters, Lisa and Nicola. I join the Minister in paying great tribute to the infected blood community. That community gave Sir Brian Langstaff a standing ovation yesterday—a sight that will never leave me. May I echo the Public Gallery’s reaction to the appointment of Sir Robert Francis? It is an excellent appointment. Will the Minister confirm that Sir Robert Francis will be able to meet the all-party parliamentary group on haemophilia and contaminated blood as well as others in the House?

With regard to the composition of the board of the compensation authority, will the Minister guarantee—I have already raised this with him—that it will include representatives of the infected and affected, and that they will have what we believe is their rightful representation on the board? I welcome his comments in relation to hepatitis B. That has always been one of the issues of contention, and some people with hepatitis B have been missing out on the existing schemes. Will he look to find a way so that those with hepatitis B can access the existing schemes? I know that the Scottish Infected Blood Forum has asked him that question.

On interim payments, the Minister mentioned the living. Will he clarify whether interim payments will be made to the estates of those who have sadly passed away? Some people will raise eyebrows about the fact that the interim compensation is less than that for those in the Post Office scheme. Will he give some explanation as to how the £210,000 figure came about?

I echo the comments of the shadow Minister on looking at criminal charges and a Hillsborough law, and I very much welcome his comments on memorial. Does the Minister agree that there are two other lessons: first, Members of this House, regardless of political persuasion, can get together to deliver justice; and secondly, for the general public the key lesson, as shown by those in the infected blood community, is never, ever to give up fighting injustice?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his engagement and for the points he has made today. I was there yesterday for the two hours of Sir Brian Langstaff’s presentation of his report, which was a moving moment for all of those who have suffered and waited for so long.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his endorsement of the appointment of Sir Robert Francis, which seemed to be welcomed in the Gallery. I recognise that what is absolutely critical for the scheme to be successful is full engagement with the communities and that the explanation of how the scheme has been constructed and any concerns about the wider support that is needed are interrogated fully before the regulations come back to the House. Throughout, the scheme has been about reconciling speed and efficiency with consultation, which is why it has been done in such a way over the past few months.

The hon. Gentleman made a point about hepatitis B and access to schemes. I will be happy to correspond with him separately on that—obviously, there are lots of technical issues. He asked about the £210,000, which he can see is an irregular amount. That is because I was trying to get the maximum amount that could be universally paid, as quickly as I could, to those who are infected and alive without any risk of paying the wrong amount, and that is the amount that I was advised. What is really important is that we get to the examination of entitlements and what that balancing payment is, and get that payment out as quickly as possible. This is not a stalling tactic; it is about trying to reconcile the competing priorities of responsible stewardship of taxpayers’ money and getting payments made as quickly as possible for the most vulnerable in our community.

With regard to memorialisation, on these matters there will need to be wide engagement and I do not want to make binding commitments today. I have said what I have said, and I or another Minister will return to that in due course.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Health and Social Care Committee

I thank the Minister for what he said and how he said it. I know that he, the Prime Minister and, in particular, the Chancellor, who is sitting next to him, will make this right. Clearly, the majority of Sir Brian’s recommendations are for the health and social care sector, and the Health and Social Care Committee, which I chair, will play its part, working with the Health Secretary—I see her in her place—and NHS England to ensure that all the recommendations are implemented, unlike with some previous accepted patient safety recommendations. May I ask the Minister about the five loss categories? They make every sense, and I note his two small refinements, but will the financial loss award reflect the reality that many infected blood victims, to give just one example, cannot access life insurance?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the Chair of the Select Committee for his comments. I also thank the Chancellor for his unwavering commitment to resolving this in a timely way, both when I was Chief Secretary and now in this role.

With respect to the five loss categories, my hon. Friend makes a legitimate point about a specific additional burden that is a consequence of these conditions. That matter will no doubt be raised by some in the communities. The structure of the scheme is based around: injuries, social impact, autonomy, care and financial loss. Clearly, social impact and autonomy capture a range of unspecific things—a basket of goods, if you like—that people will not have been able to procure at the same cost. I cannot give him a specific answer on that, but Jonathan Montgomery and his team of experts have done everything they can to look at the law, consider what the entitlement would be in different circumstances and give their best assessment, and those sorts of conversations will happen with the communities in the coming weeks.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Chair, Home Affairs Committee

I welcome the Minister’s statement today. Reflecting on the fact that he has talked about those infected and affected being fully engaged, I gently remind him of the maxim “No decision about us without us”, and of the lack of transparency so far in the expert panel. It is only today that we will learn the names of the people who have been advising the Government.

May I also welcome the appointment of Sir Robert Francis as interim chair of the infected blood body? It is worth reflecting on what Sir Brian put in his report yesterday about the Government’s failure to respond to Sir Robert Francis’s compensation framework document, which the Leader of the House commissioned when she was Paymaster General, and which the Government promised several times to respond to. That was never published.

Because we have also not had a proper written response to the second interim report from Sir Brian last April, will the Minister set out whether all 18 recommendations are being accepted by the Government? If not, why not? Will he confirm how the Government will ensure that the compensation authority is accountable directly to Parliament, as recommended by the infected blood inquiry?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the right hon. Lady for her observations and for her ongoing engagement since my appointment. I take seriously her point about having no decisions without full engagement. I made a decision, in order to get to this point where we would, in principle, accept the recommendations of Sir Brian Langstaff and move forward with the independent expert panel. As I have said to her previously, I was always prepared to reveal the names of those individuals, but I did not want them to be distracted while they did urgent work to make progress quickly. Their names will be available shortly—today.

Sir Robert Francis and I had a number of conversations about the interaction between Government and the expert group, and the logic that I used to get to the heads of loss and the scheme today. I am delighted that he is prepared to facilitate engagement with the communities.

I have also been mindful of the principle of the Government managing public money while also recognising Sir Brian’s imperative to set up a body that is at arm’s length from Government, in order to generate some trust with a very vulnerable community. Reconciling those two has not been straightforward. The right hon. Lady asked about the accountability of the arm’s length body. These matters will need to be discussed further with respect to the regulations that we must lay before the House.

A number of my predecessors have done a lot of work on this issue. I am pleased that we have made significant progress, but there is an intense amount of work to be done to deliver this over the next three months. I look forward to working constructively with her, as Sir Robert Francis does, to ensure that we get this to the right place as quickly as possible.

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

We have heard descriptions of institutional defensiveness today, but we should be clear about what we are talking about: this was a grubby secret kept by the Department of Health. The people who suffered as a consequence were treated as an inconvenience to be managed. It flies in the face of what we are required to do in this House: hold Ministers accountable for what happens in their Departments. We need to learn from this, to improve how we behave and to hold the Executive to account in future. If we do not, this incident will shame us all—not just those directly responsible. We need to properly establish a duty of candour for civil servants in the advice they give to Ministers, and a requirement that Ministers must satisfy themselves that they are giving appropriate challenge and consideration to the advice they receive, so that everyone involved in delivering services in future can be held directly responsible, and this place does not continue to be a charade.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Lady for her comments, and I agree with her instinctive reaction to what Sir Brian said about the duty of candour. It will be for the Government more widely to determine how we respond to that in a formal and coherent way. When my right hon. Friend the Chancellor was in a previous role, he moved quite a lot of things forward in the Department of Health, as the hon. Lady knows. When someone spends that amount of time, with that depth of evaluation, and gives a number of insights and recommendations, it is important that the Government look at them very carefully. Sir Brian makes wise observations about how we do government in this country, which we must listen to, heed and apply.

Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

I, too, welcome today’s statement, which has been a long time coming. This is a poignant day for many of my constituents, their families and friends. Reassurance has been called for by organisations such as Haemophilia Scotland that the recommendations will be adhered to, as perhaps they have not been in the past. Does the Minister agree that having the involvement of various groups of infected and affected people will help ensure that happens?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I agree. When I went to Edinburgh I was keen to meet a representative group of Scottish infected blood campaign organisations. I had a very candid conversation with them, in which I set out where we were as a Government and what we were planning to do on this day at a high level. Those conversations need to continue. As I said, the immediate priority is under Sir Robert Francis’s guidance. That engagement will continue throughout June, so that the regulations are informed by the wisdom, experience and views of those we are seeking to support.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Ceidwadwyr, Haltemprice and Howden

Let me start by commending my constituency neighbour, Dame Diana Johnson, for her courage, determination and persistence in relentlessly pursuing this matter over the years. I wholeheartedly support her call for the rapid payment of compensation before any more sufferers die, and I know the Minister has that in mind.

The Prime Minister said that a travesty like this should never be allowed to happen again. Like the PACAC Chair, I think that rests on the duty of candour that Sir Brain Langstaff recommended. That means a legally enforceable duty of candour for the entire public service, not just some promise. As it turns out, the Minister has in front of him the opportunity to do that. On Report today in the Lords is the Victims and Prisoners Bill, which includes a clause that imposes a duty of candour in a very limited way. Can my right hon. Friend look at that clause and expand it to cover the whole public sector under all circumstances?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I defer to my right hon. Friend’s considerable experience and wisdom on many matters. I recognise his points, but to move on this matter in that way in this short timeframe would not be the right step. However, it would be right for us to urgently engage with him, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and others to ensure that the Government come up with the right complete response, to deal with a sensible point that Sir Brian made.

Photo of Ian Byrne Ian Byrne Llafur, Liverpool, West Derby

I pay tribute to my constituents whose lives were changed for ever and the many campaigners affected by this scandal, who have fought for so many years for truth and justice. From Hillsborough to the Post Office, the infected blood scandal and many more, we have watched the state and institutions cover up wrongdoing and blame the innocent, with no accountability. How long do we have to wait for those in this place to finally act and rebalance the scales of justice, and to deliver a full Hillsborough law? Yesterday’s events show how necessary that law is to begin to end the culture of cover-ups that is shamefully hardwired into our institutions.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I very much respect the hon. Gentleman’s points about Hillsborough. I am not able to answer his question on that, as my remarks are about the compensation scheme, but a number of points have been made about the incidence of public inquiries on a range of issues, and what that says about our state and its failure in different ways. As he said, considerable effort was required of individuals—which it should never have been—to apprehend the state for what has happened. These are wider matters that we will need to come to terms with, but I do not think I can do justice to his remarks today.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Chair, Women and Equalities Committee, Chair, Women and Equalities Committee

I appreciate that today’s statement is about compensation, but there was no opportunity yesterday nor much today to ask specifically about Lord Mayor Treloar College in Hampshire. My constituent Mike Webster sent his son Gary, a constituent of my hon. Friend Paul Holmes, to Treloar back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He wrote to me last month to tell me how distraught he was that the school is now trying to paint itself as a victim, when we know that it was in receipt of funds to conduct experiments on children. Will my right hon. Friend give me some assurance from the Dispatch Box that the Government are considering very carefully how the Helsinki declaration may have been breached, and some guidance about what future steps may be taken?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

My right hon. Friend very eloquently makes a very important point. In the course of my engagement, I met a number of former pupils from Treloar. I believe that in Sir Robert’s report, one full volume pertains to what happened there. So many individuals underwent medical treatment that was not envisaged by their parents and where consent appears not to have been secured. This is a massive aspect of the work of Sir Brian Langstaff. The Government will need to examine it very carefully, including the implications for who is culpable and how we should most appropriately respond to avoid anything like that happening again. I hope that what I have said today with respect to compensation will give some modest measure of comfort to those I met and those like them who are not here today.

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Shadow Minister (Wales)

There are not words enough to pay tribute to all the campaigners, infected and affected, including my constituent Lin, who lost Bill, and the Smiths. I also pay tribute to my right hon. Friend Dame Diana Johnson and journalists such as Caroline Wheeler. The Smiths lost Colin, aged just seven years old, to AIDS, having been given infected blood from an Arkansas prison at 10 months old. We now know from the inquiry that the risks of giving that blood were known. Lin and the Smiths want “sorry” to turn into something today, for those who die every week. On their behalf, I say to the Minister: make sure we have a proper timeline and that we stick to it; implement the recommendations as fast as possible; put the victims at the heart of decision making; and no more delays. This group of people have waited far too long and have been through far too much already. Finally, the Smiths want their son to have his name back, although they have always made sure that we have never forgotten it. So can I say it today? Colin John Smith.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The hon. Lady makes a moving tribute to her constituents. I can assure her that the Government have heard the pleas that have been made. We have set out today a clear timetable on the journey to the regulations. I will, with Mr Speaker’s permission, update the House in early autumn on where we have got to and the timeline for further detail, subject to the advice of the interim CEO and the interim chair. She makes a point about stigma, which is a massive part of this for so many people I met and for her constituents, including the Smith family. We recognise that as part of the scheme, but the memorialisation process must also recognise in particular those who were so badly stigmatised in the ’80s and ’90s.

Photo of Paul Bristow Paul Bristow Ceidwadwyr, Peterborough

The Minister talks about stigma. When I met some of the affected community in Peterborough, I heard about the discrimination they faced and about their lack of trust in public institutions. This all leaves a very long legacy. With that in mind, how confident is he that, despite that long legacy, the scheme will capture and benefit everyone affected or infected? How confident is he that everyone who should be compensated will come forward?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I am confident that the scheme will work, and that it will work as quickly as it possibly can. I mentioned today the interim payments of £210,000 to the infected who are alive. The speed with which we process the applications of those affected and infected is very much on my mind as we set up the shadow arm’s length body. I will continue to work with my officials to do everything we can to move the timeline from the right to the left, conscious of how long people have waited.

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Brexit)

First of all, I welcome the fact that the Minister has moved so quickly. The sorrow expressed yesterday had to be translated into action. The fact that the authority has been set up, a chairman who will have the confidence of the victims has been put in place, and the payments—at least interim payments—will be made quickly is good. But for people like my constituent Trevor Marsden, who was used as an experiment by people who described children as “cheaper than chimps” and more readily available, justice will be given only when the elite in the civil service and the professionals who cynically abused their position—devised experiments, denied they were happening, tried to destroy the evidence and defended their actions—know they will face criminal charges. That is what they are. Will the Government make sure that all the evidence is made available, so they can be brought to justice?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The right hon. Gentleman makes a very powerful representation on behalf of Trevor Marsden and more generally with respect to some of the conclusions Sir Brian made in his remarks. What happened with respect to experimentation was truly shameful. As he will be aware, I am speaking today to the issue of compensation, but it is an urgent matter to isolate who knew what and when, take that from the report and establish what courses of action, across the range of issues raised here in the House today, are the most appropriate to deal with all of those things.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright Ceidwadwyr, Kenilworth and Southam

I welcome what my right hon. Friend has set out, particularly the efforts that he and his predecessors have made to remove friction from the process of getting the victims of this unforgivable episode the compensation they clearly deserve. But he will recognise that as the system beds down and begins to operate, there is always the risk of that friction creeping back in. Can he make sure that he and his ministerial colleagues keep their eyes on the process and work with Sir Robert Francis to make sure it continues to be without friction, so that people continue to be able to easily access the compensation they need?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

Absolutely. My right hon. and learned Friend makes a very wise point. The need to swiftly expedite payments in full to as many qualifying people as possible is the imperative that has guided me to this point, and will be the imperative that Sir Robert will take forward in his conversations. We must not introduce unnecessary complexity to establish people’s qualification to receive a payment, when that is unnecessary. There is a tension, but we must resolve it to get the payments out. That is why the arm’s length body will need to prioritise in particular the groups who are infected, alive and suffering the most, many of whom I met recently.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Llafur, Wallasey

Does the Minister understand that as well as a duty of candour, we really need, as my right hon. Friend Maria Eagle has consistently put before this House, a public advocate to make certain that victims in future scandals have somebody to look after them and take them through processes? That would stop this happening ever again. Will he say something about when he expects all the payments to have been made? He talked about an interim scheme which goes on to the end of this financial year, but also about full payments being made going further forward. When is his deadline for getting this done?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The hon. Lady talks about a public advocate. I am not in a position to respond to that today, but it is clearly one option that is available and I think will be part of the wider response to the report. To be clear, the interim payments of £210,000 to the infected alive which I announced today will be paid within 90 days, starting in the summer. The full payments will begin by the end of the year. I am constrained somewhat because we are setting up an arm’s length body. There is an interim chief executive and I think there will be 20 people employed in that organisation by the end of next week. I cannot account for the processes and the way it will be established, and therefore how quickly, but everything I have said to David Foley, the interim chief executive, is designed to impress on him the need for speed to expedite as many of these claims as quickly as possible in full.

Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I commend the Minister for his statement. I know from our conversations how seriously he takes his moral duty on this issue. However, I also know from the work done at the Cabinet Office in the summer of 2022 in getting the first interim payments out that one of the most fraught areas of consideration will be wider eligibility, and that is not just a function of complexity but a function of capacity. The Minister mentioned that the arm's length body would have 20 employees in the next couple of weeks, but can he reassure the House that, if Sir Robert Francis comes back in a few months and says, “In order to make quick decisions, I need more capacity and therefore more people”, there will be no quibbling on adequate resource in that organisation to fulfil the Minister’s rightly identified priority of getting the money out as quickly as possible to as many people as possible?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank my right hon. Friend for what he did when he was in office to bring forward interim payments and to make progress. As for the business case for the arm's length body and the plans for the number of employees needed, I expect Sir Robert and the interim chief executive to be iteratively working up plans to expedite this as quickly as possible, and to assert what resources they need for it to be delivered as quickly as possible. I will do everything I can to prioritise swift delivery in the decisions that I make.

Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Scottish National Party, Central Ayrshire

The timeline in Sir Brian’s report highlights the litany of failures, delays and cover-ups over decades which resulted in the exposure of even more patients to hepatitis C and HIV. While several countries accepted liability and set up compensation schemes in the mid-1990s, UK victims have had to spend another 30 years of their lives not just dealing with ill health but fighting for justice. I welcome the vast majority of what the Minister has announced today, and I am sure that everyone in the House does as well, but the members of the infected blood community who are here today will have been greatly concerned to hear his comments that implied a threat to the ongoing support payments. Does he accept that it is not just a matter of saying that the infected blood community will be involved in the compensation scheme? Will their wishes be listened to?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

They will, absolutely. When I was in Edinburgh I had long conversations about the need to understand the integration of the existing infected blood support schemes, which present in a different way and offer meaningful psychological and other support services to the communities in different parts of the United Kingdom. We are talking about two parts of the heads of loss—about past and future care costs, and loss of income past and future. We are consolidating those into a lump sum, but I have made an absolute commitment that no one will be worse off. There are a couple of categories in which there is a potential risk of that, but we will make sure that no one will be worse off. However, the sensitivity in the delivery of this scheme, in terms with which the various communities across the United Kingdom will be comfortable, is at the top of my mind, and will be instrumental in determining the form of the regulations that will guide this into law in the next few months

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

I commend my right hon. Friend for his statement and, indeed, for the tone that the Government have taken in respect of this most grave scandal. It is striking, is it not, that the chair of the inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, has said that his job is not yet done, that he will only regard his terms of reference as fulfilled when the Government respond, within 12 months, to his recommendations, and, importantly, that he will only regard his job as done if he feels that there is nothing more he can do to prevent delay? Given that the Government have to respond to the second interim report and, now, to this final report, can my right hon. Friend assure me and the House, and indeed the wider public, that he and the Government will do everything they can to ensure that Sir Brian’s role is fulfilled as swiftly as possible?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I can certainly reassure my right hon. and learned Friend of that. Today’s announcements about compensation, and the documents that will flow through, will constitute substantive responses to meet the expectations of many in the communities, and I will consider the formalisation of those responses very carefully to bring clarity to the matter.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Llafur, North Durham

Could I put on record the thanks of, I think, all of us not only to the campaigners, but to my right hon. Friend Dame Diana Johnson? As someone who campaigned for many years on postmasters, I know how lonely it is at times when you are taking on the state and no one believes you.

I welcome the Paymaster General’s announcement of a compensation scheme based on tariffs, but can I tell him, from my experience as a member of the Horizon Compensation Advisory Board, that the big work starts now in terms of agreeing the levels of those tariffs? Will the Government pay individual claimants’ legal bills, because they will need some legal advice on that? Could I also echo what the Father of the House, Sir Peter Bottomley, said? A lot of money is going to be paid out to people. We will get unscrupulous individuals trying to prey on people. Can I suggest that we ensure that they get financial advice and support when those payments are made?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

Not for the first time, the right hon. Gentleman has made some wise points, and I am grateful to him for doing so. I accept much of what he has said about the concern surrounding tariffs, but these tariffs have not been set up with financial constraints; they have been set up with the input of a range of experts to reach a judgment on what would be appropriate versus what would be a legal entitlement. The assumptions behind those bandings—severity bandings, for instance—now need to be explained and scrutinised, and that is what is going to happen.

The right hon. Gentleman made a very reasonable point about claims by unscrupulous people; the question here is how we can put safeguards in place while expediting the claims of those who have qualified. He also made a reasonable point about the professional support of lawyers and financial advisers. That, too, is at the top of my mind as I learn from some of the other scandals with which I became familiar in my role as Economic Secretary to the Treasury. I will take those to heart in future.

Photo of Kieran Mullan Kieran Mullan Ceidwadwyr, Crewe and Nantwich

Let me begin by paying tribute to my constituent Paul Bloor for his campaign. Paul started at Treloar College in 1974, and was infected with hepatitis C from contaminated blood products. I regret that I personally had not grasped the full horrendousness of what has gone on, and I thank Sir Brian for ensuring that we do all now understand. Paul welcomes the compensation, but he asked me to raise with the Minister the issue of accountability. What work is being done to ensure that we can now pursue any avenue towards personal accountability for those who deserve to have their conduct looked at?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I completely understand why Paul would want that point to be raised. Those matters go beyond my brief when it comes to compensation, but I think the whole House will recognise that this matter is urgent and that Ministers in other Departments will need to address it properly and in full. I hope that the debate after Whitsun will give us an opportunity to open up all these matters as a House, and that the Government can then respond appropriately as quickly as possible.

Some of the things that happened were completely against the values of the institutions that those individuals were part of. We need to examine this fully and come to terms with it, and make sure that it can never happen again.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice)

Can we accept that institutional defensiveness has not gone away, and will only go away when we in this House act to make it go away? For the past few years I have been working with constituents who were victims of a Ponzi scheme. They lost millions of pounds. They were failed repeatedly by, first, the Financial Services Authority and then the Financial Conduct Authority. They have been left out of pocket to the tune of nearly £2 million in legal fees, in which the FCA has no apparent interest. Will the Minister meet me, along with other Members whose constituents have been affected and some of the victims themselves, to see what can be done to deliver for them the good intentions that he has expressed today?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I am very sorry to hear about the right hon. Gentleman’s constituents. I know from my prior experience that the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, my hon. Friend Bim Afolami, is best placed to address any issue related to the FCA. I understand the problems of jurisdiction of the FCA, particularly when it comes to unregulated activities, but I do not think I can help the right hon. Gentleman, and, with respect, I think he should address that question to my colleague in the Treasury.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip

I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Minister has done a diligent job, which is reflective of his attitude towards the overall need and this gravest of situations. However, it all ought to have been done earlier, and I hold in mind my former constituent Annie Walker, who died in 2016. I wish she had been able to see this before she passed away, because she told me that she was tired of having to keep campaigning.

I also have in mind a current constituent, whom I will not name and with whom I work regularly on this issue. He has asked me to point out that the support schemes are, as per the Minister’s statement, due to change. He and I would be very grateful for as much clarity as possible on those schemes, which will be needed by many of the people involved.

Finally, may I urge the Minister and his colleagues in the Government to bring forward the regulations as soon as possible? If I understand it correctly, Sir Robert Francis may take a number of weeks. He has mentioned the month of June, and we have heard the figure of five weeks, so can I take it that we may see the regulations in July, which would allow, I hope, all Members—not just a selected Committee—of this House to do their job in scrutinising those regulations and get the job done as fast as possible?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank my right hon. Friend for her questions, and for her personal engagement with me over recent weeks. The fact that she refers to an unnamed constituent provokes me to acknowledge that so many people have been so traumatised by their experiences and the stigma associated with their conditions that they have not been able to be as open as they would like.

With respect to the timeframe, the Government submitted to a three-month obligation to bring those regulations forward from Royal Assent of the Bill, which will happen, I think, in June or July. Of course, there will be time where we have to lay them before the House. I want to make sure that we do that in the most timely way possible. The purposeful intent, with the engagement under Sir Robert’s leadership, is to make sure that that is meaningful but also addresses the imperative around time.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Llafur, Exeter

The very welcome appointment of Sir Robert Francis, who did such an excellent job in chairing the inquiry into the scandal in mid-Staffordshire, is a reminder that we are very good at inquiries in this country, but we are terrible at implementing their recommendations. I would like to make a suggestion to the Minister, and it is just as applicable to those on my own Front Bench. We might be able to reduce the chances of this kind of thing happening again by asking every permanent secretary in Whitehall how many recommendations from previous inquiries are still on the books and have not been implemented. Let us have the list, and let us have a good reason—a very good reason—why they have not been implemented.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question, and I echo his tribute to Sir Robert Francis. One of the reasons I was keen to secure his ongoing work is that he did excellent work with the study into compensation, which has obviously been important in moving us forward to this point. The challenge to permanent secretaries on recommendations that have not been dealt with is very reasonable. I am not quite sure how best I can take that forward, but I will seek advice and let the right hon. Gentleman know how we are getting on with it at the next opportunity.

Photo of Selaine Saxby Selaine Saxby Ceidwadwyr, North Devon

Yesterday, I spoke to an emotional constituent, Paul Jewels from Braunton, who wanted to express to Sir Brian his gratitude that the truth has come out. He contracted hepatitis C following a blood transfusion during chemotherapy in 1983, and he now trains therapy dogs to give hope and support to others. Can my right hon. Friend give him hope that compensation will be rapid and simple to enable him and others to finally reach closure?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

Yes, I certainly can. That has been driving the Government over recent months. As we make progress, I am sure that we will give more detail on exactly how and when the work of the arm’s length body will play out in the coming months, the remainder of this year and beyond.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Creative Industries and Digital)

The thing is, this will all happen again unless we change the way we do our parliamentary politics, because Parliament failed, as did the whole of British politics. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. Frankly, I think of my right hon. Friend Dame Diana Johnson as a Companion of Honour with a capital C and a capital H.

The truth is, Parliament was misled repeatedly over decades. In all those decades, there was not a single Select Committee report into infected blood. We did not do our job properly, so is it not time that we do have change in the way we do our parliamentary and Government politics in this country, perhaps with a bit more power in Parliament, rather than always in Government? Would it not be a good idea if it was always the people first, not the Government first; and the people first, not the institution or the Department first; and the people first, not the party first? Does not that require placing a legally enforceable duty of candour not just on Ministers through the ministerial code, which I think should be in statute, but on all our civil servants?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his thoughtful assessment, which chimes with what I thought yesterday when I heard Sir Brian speak to the 1,200 people in Methodist Central Hall. What was striking was the range of institutional failure. Yes, it involved the Government and politicians, but it also involved civil servants, doctors and many people in positions of authority. The hon. Gentleman makes a clear suggestion for rebalancing across different institutions, and I recognise the specificity of Sir Brian’s challenge and recommendations. As I said earlier, the Government will need to respond powerfully to that, and we will, in due course.

Photo of Mary Robinson Mary Robinson Ceidwadwyr, Cheadle

I welcome today’s statement and my right hon. Friend’s setting out the five heads of harm, and I also welcome Sir Robert Francis as the interim head of the new authority. It has taken a long time to get here, and one of the biggest harms has been the delay in seeing this day. A lot of people will be feeling that really acutely. We need to avoid this happening again, and that is partly about addressing the cover-up culture in so many of our organisations. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need a change in our legislation to ensure that, right across the public sector and our society, we have a desire for openness and transparency, and get rid of the cover-up culture once and for all?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

My hon. Friend puts it very well, and I agree with her assessment. We need to come to terms with the fact that there are flaws in the way we operate. They have been powerfully and vividly depicted in Sir Brian Langstaff’s report, and the Government must respond in a suitably comprehensive way.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Scottish National Party, Glasgow North

I want to recognise the valuable and incredible work of many of the campaign groups, not least the Scottish Infected Blood Forum, chaired by my constituent, Joyce Donnelly, whose husband Tom was infected and passed away from hepatitis C. Joyce was in the Gallery yesterday and earlier today, and she and others have acted as convenors and advocates for the wider community at great personal cost; there is not just the financial cost, but the time and effort put in by those in those roles. Will that effort and cost be taken into account in the calculation of compensation, or is there other ongoing support that the Government can provide to the campaign and advocacy groups? Joyce described her forum as “stony broke”.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The hon. Gentleman makes a powerful representation on behalf of Joyce Donnelly, who I believe I have met. The purpose of today’s announcement is to bring an end to the need for campaigning as quickly as possible, and to provide comprehensive compensation to all those who qualify as quickly as possible. However, as Dame Diana Johnson said, we need to ensure that the different communities are comfortable with what is being proposed, and are familiar with the details of how tariffs have been calculated and how they will work. Rather than my prescribing, as a Government Minister, what should happen, I am trying to facilitate the process by giving someone whom the communities clearly respect the opportunity to lead the engagement, urgently, that will inform the regulations that underpin the new body.

Photo of Rehman Chishti Rehman Chishti Ceidwadwyr, Gillingham and Rainham

I very much welcome the Minister’s statement on ensuring that compensation is paid quickly. I pay real tribute to all the campaigners who have fought day and night to get where we are today, including Dame Diana Johnson. It was a pleasure to support her amendment on this important matter to move the situation to where it is today. In an email from my constituent Colin Midgeley in 2015, he said:

“How many more of us will have to go to the grave before a full and final settlement is achieved?”

Sadly, his father passed away in 2018. He then said:

“My dad had to jump through hoops” to get help; people came to assess him regularly. That cannot be right. The Minister said that the assessment will be done as quickly and as widely as possible. May I ask that the test for qualification be as wide as possible, and that things be done as quickly as possible, so that people get the justice they need?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I am happy to give my hon. Friend the assurance he asks for. It was clear in the conversations that I have had that speed is of the essence. I know that colleagues from all parts of the House have had many conversations that have informed the representations made in this place. There have been a number of ad hoc schemes over the years. Various Governments—to be fair, of all parties—have amended and sought to upgrade those schemes, but this compensation scheme is qualitatively very different. It is an admission of culpability and responsibility by the state, and it marks that responsibility. We need alignment of the different schemes on getting the journey of assessment done as quickly as possible. That is what we will do.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

I represent five individuals or families infected or affected by the NHS infected blood scandal. One constituent was infected with hepatitis C as a child through contaminated blood products used at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, but he was forced to use all his stage 2 payment of £50,000 to pay for the treatment Harvoni when he developed cirrhosis of the liver. He should not have had to do that, and I hope that there will be redress for that. Another constituent, a single mother, died aged 47 after being infected with HIV after a routine blood transfusion. She had to keep her condition secret, due to the stigma and ignorance that existed at the time. As she was a single mother, her family have never had any compensation. On their behalf, can I ask the Paymaster General to clarify what sum has been allocated for compensation? What is the size of the package? Will it be open-ended, because we know that people are still developing conditions? He confirms that new interim compensation payments will be made within 90 days, but he seems unable to say what the timeline for full compensation payments will be. I underline the point made by my right hon. Friend Dame Diana Johnson about the need to ensure that the compensation authority is accountable to Parliament. We must have that. Finally, I commend my right hon. Friend on all her work on this campaign.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Lady for her points, which I will address. The first that she makes is that everyone who has been impacted by this scandal is an individual and has had a different pathway, in terms of vulnerability, financial obligations and difficulty accessing the schemes. That is why it is important that I reinforce the fact that the Infected Blood Compensation Authority will have an appeal mechanism, and people will have the right to go to tribunal if they believe that the tariff-based system does not reflect the circumstances that individuals may have experienced. There is no restraint on people using the legal system as well, if that is what they wish to do.

I did say that the interim payments of £210,000 would be paid within 90 days, starting this summer. I also said that the full payments will start by the end of this year; I confirm that is the calendar year, to remove any ambiguity. The Chancellor and the Prime Minister have been clear that we will pay whatever it costs. I cannot tell the hon. Lady what that number is, because we have not yet finalised the severity bandings and verified the work on the tariffs. That is the meaningful engagement we are having with the communities, supervised by Sir Robert Francis. As for the numbers affected, there is obviously a wide range. We are talking about the number who qualify by virtue of the qualification of the infected person. Exact numbers do not exist. I set out who can access the scheme; the principal is that the scheme is accessible to them, and the Government will pay whatever it costs to meet those obligations.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

I welcome what my right hon. Friend about paying whatever it costs. It is essential that we be prepared to do that. The Government accepted moral culpability some time ago, and have now accepted financial liability. Can he assure all those constituents for whom justice delayed has been justice denied that he will move as swiftly as possible to deliver for them? Will he bear in mind the lessons of the Northern Ireland victims compensation scheme, which we were able to get through this House in a single day, when there was the political will? Will he continue to engage with, listen to and support Robert Francis in his engagement with the infected and affected, to ensure that the scheme delivers for everybody?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

My hon. Friend makes wise and sensible points, built on a lot of experience of Government and as a constituency MP. I endorse all that he has asked. There will be a “Dear colleague” letter going out to all MPs, and a “Dear stakeholder” letter, as well as a number of other documents giving details of the schemes I have mentioned today. There will be an attempt to move things forward as quickly as we can, using cross-party consensus on what we are trying to achieve.

Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Attorney General)

Christopher Thomas of Pen Llyn was one of the first patients with haemophilia to be treated by Professor Arthur Bloom of Cardiff. Christopher died in 1990 aged 46. His wife Judith described the family’s feeling that the haematologist was a friend, because they often visited him in hospital for treatment, yet Professor Bloom is mentioned repeatedly in Sir Brian Langstaff’s report as somebody who “disastrously…over-influenced” the Department of Health and Social Security in the ’70s and ’80s. The Minister has mentioned a range of institutional failures. Surely he must agree that today we should hear more details of how legislation relating to duty of candour will be brought forward. If he cannot give us details today—I appreciate that it is not his Department that we are talking about—can he let us know when he will?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The right hon. Lady makes a sensible point. I, too, was struck by the reference to Professor Bloom and the role he played in different ways over the years. Doing justice to the report’s 2,500 pages and seven volumes, and coming up with a serious response, will take a bit of time. I recognise the Government’s collective determination to address this matter as quickly as possible in the right way, having listened to the will of this House. The first opportunity to do that will be a debate sometime after Whitsun, which I intend to open—someone from the Department of Health and Social Care will wind up—so that we can begin to outline, in policy terms, how these things can be properly addressed.

Photo of Siobhan Baillie Siobhan Baillie Ceidwadwyr, Stroud

I thank the Minister for the thoughtful and thorough statement, which is so clearly informed by his extensive discussions with the community. I have spoken to him many times about my constituent Sally-Anne and her family, and how this devastating scandal has affected them. I hope that much of what the Minister has said today about compensation will provide Sally-Anne and others with comfort, but we all know that with the best will in the world, and even with the most planning, there will be difficulties in implementing such a massive, complex compensation scheme.

When the Minister said that compensation would not impact means-tested benefits, I felt a sense of relief, but we also know that there will be difficulties when Departments and computer systems have to speak to each other. Can I push the Minister to confirm that the community’s voices will continue to be heard by the arm’s length body, and that we will be able to adapt and change the scheme where necessary to ensure that it works on the ground, because I know that he has worked so hard for that to happen?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank my hon. Friend for her remarks and for her constructive point around how the arm’s length body needs to evolve and fit the communities’ expectations. I am absolutely committed to that. She mentioned her constituent, Sally-Anne. Every individual is a priority to me as the Minister, and we want to deliver this as efficiently as we possibly can. She talked about benefits disregards, and I have also mentioned tax disregards. The systems need to recognise what we are doing with these payments to individuals. We have tried to address everything we can think of to make this flow as quickly as possible, and I hope that that will be the case. My hon. Friend is welcome to speak to me again if there are other issues she wants to raise.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

We are indebted to Sir Brian Langstaff for the comprehensive work that he has undertaken. However, it leaves many questions about the transparency and accountability of Government—to this place and to Committees but also to the public. Can we ensure that those infected and affected are involved in co-producing the outcomes of the recommendations? Can we also ensure that the separate Departments are held to account, not least the Department of Health and Social Care, given that so many of the recommendations will fall on that Department, and that the Secretary of State for that Department is directly accountable, in this new spirit of transparency to this House and beyond?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

Of course, many of these events happened over a very wide timespan going back 40 or 50 years, but the issue is what we can do going forward. The hon. Lady makes a reasonable point about involving the infected and affected communities in this process. One of the things that I have mentioned is the arm’s length body having sufficient distance from Government to give confidence to the community. We need to get that right, and we need to ensure that the appropriate governance is in place so that the representatives of those communities can have meaningful influence in how they engage, and on the wider issues that she mentioned.

Photo of Jason McCartney Jason McCartney Ceidwadwyr, Colne Valley

I really welcome this detailed and thorough statement, and I welcome it on behalf of two of the victims in particular. The first is an unnamed constituent who came to my first-ever advice surgery back in 2010 at Huddersfield town hall. He told me how, during a blood transfusion, he had been infected with HIV, hepatitis C and CJD. The second victim is Mel McKay, who is not a constituent but lives on the east coast of Yorkshire. We have become friends over many years while campaigning on this issue. As well as delivering the compensation rapidly, can the Minister also confirm that there will be no time limits at all on when the victims start applying and completing their applications for compensation?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

We will be having a review after three years to look at what the lifespan of the arm’s length body should be. I acknowledge the challenge for people with multiple conditions, and that is why I mentioned multiple awards in my statement. That was one of the issues that the independent expert panel grappled with. We want to make this accessible to everyone who is entitled, and I do not want to have unnecessary artificial cut-off points, but we also need to ensure that we have an organisation that is fit for purpose to deliver this quickly.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

My constituents, Della Ryness and Ruth Spellman, have been active in coming to Parliament and talking about the distress experienced by their families for many, many years. Will the Minister and the shadow Ministers pay tribute to their work? Also, does the Minister envisage any criminal convictions or manslaughter charges for individuals who might have really done the wrong thing?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I am very happy to pay tribute to the work of Della and Ruth. Many of these individuals have been campaigning for 20, 30 or 40 years, and I pay tribute to all of them today. With respect to criminal charges, I am not in a position to make a comment today, but work will be done to examine the report fully and make an assessment of that at a future point.

Photo of Caroline Ansell Caroline Ansell Ceidwadwyr, Eastbourne

I welcome the Paymaster General’s statement today. I would also like to put on record my thanks to Sir Brian and pay tribute to the campaigners who never gave up. I pay tribute to one campaigner in particular in my own constituency, whom I will not name but she will know that I am speaking of her. She lost her mother and can never be compensated for that, but she also gave up her job and her income. She does not regret that for a moment, but it has left her financially fragile in these later years, to the point that I have advocated with her mortgage lender for a stay of execution—breathing space—ahead of any potential compensation. I know that my right hon. Friend cannot comment on individual cases, but can he restate that, as a child of a victim, she has been affected? I believe that she qualifies on multiple measures, but can he restate that today, for the lender, for her confidence and for my satisfaction? I also add my voice to those saying that there is a dire need for swift action. Time is precious.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her sensitive portrayal of the individual circumstances of her constituent. The financial vulnerability that impacts so many of the affected because of the impact on the infected is the reason that we are bringing forward the scheme in this way. I am happy to confirm that the affected individual will be able to claim in their own right, informed by the qualification of the infected individual and the estate of the infected individual. Again, I recognise that a tariff-based system will inevitably have limitations, and that is why, beyond getting the parameters absolutely right in terms of the severity bandings, care costs and so on, there must also be an appeal mechanism and a mechanism to challenge, such that we can ensure that everyone receives justice in an individual way.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Earlier this year, on 18 January, I raised the case of my constituent, Nigel Winborne, a victim of infected blood. As a result, Nigel developed various health issues, including renal failure and liver cirrhosis. I said that Nigel wanted a

“faster resolution to the infected blood scandal compensation before it is too late for myself and others to see full and final resolution”.—[Official Report, 18 January 2024;
Vol. 743, c. 1016.]

Sadly, Nigel was too ill to contact me again, but his sister mentioned that she did not want him to be the latest statistic in this horrible affair. Nigel passed away on 9 March. He was just 63 years old. I spoke to his partner earlier this morning, and he is absolutely devastated. They had lived together for over 20 years and he dedicated his life, giving up his career, to be Nigel’s full-time carer. That 90 days will seem like 90 years for them, so on his behalf, I ask the Minister: can this timeline be expedited as soon as possible?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her tribute to Nigel and his life, and I am very sorry to his family for the loss. I recognise the frustration of even one day’s delay. I have done everything I can to move these payments forward as quickly as I possibly can, recognising all the different dependencies. If I could write the cheques myself personally, I would, but I cannot. I will continue to do all that I can. I said that these payments would begin in the summer, and I want them to happen as soon as possible. The 90 days is not a deadline, and it is not an obligation, but we want to get them out as soon as possible, and where we can, we will.

Photo of Tom Hunt Tom Hunt Ceidwadwyr, Ipswich

I welcome the statement today, just as I welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday. My constituent, Alan, has been campaigning for justice for 37 years. He himself was infected as part of this scandal. The more I find out about this, the more chilling it becomes. Frankly, sometimes it reads like a plot from a horror movie—maybe one day it might even be one, because that is how bad and chilling this scandal is. But of course we know that this is not the only example of public organisations failing the people they are there to serve. Will the Minister confirm to me that transparency and accountability, when it comes to our public service, will be the key tenet and will rule the day?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I absolutely can. My hon. Friend makes a very wise point and, not only in the conduct of this exercise but more generally, we need to be as transparent as possible. Yesterday, Sir Brian spoke about an insidious conflation of failure across multiple institutions that, over time, resulted in catastrophic outcomes. We need to come to terms properly with that to ensure that we put in whatever it takes to stop these things happening again.

Photo of Paul Girvan Paul Girvan Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Education), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport)

Before today’s statement, I found it ironic that we had to wait for a public inquiry to try to get things moving. It is difficult to see why it took so long to find that we have a culture not just within our Government but within Departments, especially the Department of Health and Social Care, whereby whistleblowers are targeted and clarity is not brought out.

In saying that, I want to ask about Sir Brian’s 12 recommendations. The timeline for implementing all of the recommendations, which go across Departments, will mean taking this to the Cabinet to ensure that all Departments address the aspects of this report that affect them. I want to see a timeline for the date by which we will ensure the implementation of all 12 recommendations.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The hon. Gentleman is right to assert the need for a timeline. I am not in a position to provide one today, but I have set out that the House will have an opportunity to debate the report soon after Whitsun. That will be an opportunity to give some initial clarity on the steps that are going to be taken. As the hon. Gentleman and the whole House will appreciate, there is a lot of complexity and we do not want to give a timetable that we cannot honour and deliver.

Photo of Holly Mumby-Croft Holly Mumby-Croft Ceidwadwyr, Scunthorpe

I again draw my right hon. Friend’s attention to the issue of tracing all those affected and supporting those who may not be known to the inquiry, who may not be registered with one of our really good support organisations and who may not be on any list. Today, I have had contact with a family in my constituency, one of whom is very unwell with an illness that they believe they contracted from transfusions they had in the 1970s and ’80s. What advice would the Minister give to them on the steps they should take to determine whether they are eligible for this compensation?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

As ever, my hon. Friend makes a very sensible point. As time goes by, verifying what it takes for a person to qualify, if they are not currently registered, is something that the new body will need to clarify. Through the process of meaningful engagement in the coming weeks, I hope that some of these issues will be satisfactorily resolved.

We want to be as accessible as possible to all those who qualify, and we want to make the verification process for those who qualify as straightforward as reasonably possible. That is the guiding principle. I cannot give the details here today, but I will return to my hon. Friend’s point in future.

Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Labour/Co-operative, Brighton, Kemptown

I pay tribute to my constituent Mark Ward, who is here today. He contacted me soon after I became a Member of Parliament and, like many, has continued to be a dogged campaigner. This report is some vindication, but justice will not be served until the campaigners have seen all aspects of the report being implemented.

I want to ask a few specific questions. The Minister said that he could not set the interim payments above £210,000 because of a fear of the safety of those payments. Is he therefore implying that £210,000 is the potential minimum payment that he expects? It is lower than the minimum interim payment for sub-postmasters, so I would like some clarity on what that means.

The Minister also says that he expects the payments to start within 90 days. Does he mean 90 days from now, to be completed by the summer, or a 90-day period in the summer? That was not quite clear.

Finally, public inquiries are at the gift of the Prime Minister. There is no formal way of agreeing to an inquiry, apart from campaigners and Members such as my right hon. Friend Dame Diana Johnson forcing the Prime Minister to take action, which does not seem like a coherent way to right wrongs in this country. Will we start to think about a proper public inquiries reform that includes a duty of candour, a public advocate and a way for Committees of this House to launch such inquiries when serious matters occur?

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission, Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

Order. Before the Minister answers those questions, I make it clear that, after a statement of this kind, each Member has the opportunity to ask a question. I am very anxious that everybody who wishes to ask a question should be able to do so on behalf of their constituents, but it really has to be one question per Member. I have been lenient with the hon. Gentleman, and I suspect that the Minister will want to answer all his questions.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

On the £210,000, I took advice on the largest sum I could comfortably secure. Lloyd Russell-Moyle will see documents published today on the schemes for different conditions, and I hope things will become clearer for him. I am happy to correspond with him on that.

On the timing, I said that the payments will happen within 90 days, beginning in the summer. I cannot say which day of the summer, but 90 days is the time period.

The hon. Gentleman, like Sir Brian, spoke about how public inquiries are initiated. How that would be implemented is a matter for further conversation in subsequent weeks and debates.

Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Ceidwadwyr, Sedgefield

Like many others, I obviously welcome yesterday’s statement and today’s comprehensive follow-up. My Sedgefield constituent David Farry has been in touch to ask me to thank the Prime Minister for his apology, to thank my right hon. Friend Mrs May for initiating the public inquiry, and to thank Sir Brian for his work. I am sure David will have been pleased to hear the Minister’s words earlier.

I add my voice to those calling for this to be a watershed moment in public transparency. On behalf of David, can I ask for real progress as urgently as possible, so that David and others can start to think about moving on from these appalling events?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I can assure David, and every individual affected, that we are doing everything we can to deliver this scheme as quickly as possible. We will also address the wider challenge to the culture of government and institutions in this country, and there will be an opportunity to discuss that in the coming weeks.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

I pay tribute to all those who fought so hard for justice for so long. It is impossible to imagine the pain and harm done to so many, including to some of my Brighton constituents who have shared with me their deeply harrowing stories.

The setting up of the Infected Blood Compensation Authority is very welcome, and I echo those who have called for the body to be made accountable to Parliament, but will the Government consider going further and potentially setting up an independent body to monitor and follow up all such recommendations and inquiries? Without such a mechanism, without such a body, there is a risk of a significant accountability gap, because no one is directly charged with the effective oversight of the implementation of all these recommendations.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Lady for her representations. That is certainly something that needs to be carefully considered in the context of all that Sir Brian has said.

One of the challenges on accountability is when recommendations made outside this place encounter the need for delivery. Sometimes that means that things have to be done slightly differently, but they meet the spirit of the recommendations. We need to make sure that, in the accountability mechanism, there is sufficient scope to recognise that challenge, otherwise we will be in a position of making false judgments. The spirit of what the hon. Lady says needs to be taken forward, and the Government need to reflect on that thoughtfully.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Llafur, Hammersmith

In 2010, my then constituent Andrew March, a victim of contaminated blood since the age of nine, succeeded in a judicial review that found that payment of compensation by the UK Government was flawed. He said:

“We hope that the Government will now consider the whole issue of compensating those so tragically affected by the contaminated blood disaster, instead of making token, derisory, ex-gratia payments.”

It has taken a further 14 years for Government to follow the lead of the courts, and now the inquiry, in calling for justice for Andrew and the thousands of other victims. From 2010 we attended countless meetings, debates and briefings, and heard warm words from a succession of Health Ministers. Nothing happened for years, then matters proceeded at a glacial pace. What mechanism will be enforced to ensure that the scheme announced today is implemented with rigour and urgency?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. We can go back to the Governments of Heath, Callaghan, Wilson, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and Theresa May; all of them come under criticism. Theresa May initiated a public inquiry with significant input from numbers of people across the House. We on the Government side have all been clear that we wish things had happened sooner, but I am doing everything I can to move this forward today, and I am resisting any attempt to politicise it.

The hon. Gentleman makes points about accountability. We have an obligation within three months of Royal Assent to make regulations that will activate the arm’s length body. We have a shadow entity in place, an interim CEO and an interim chair, and engagement is planned for the coming days, with 20 people to be employed by the end of next week. I will continue to work with anyone and everyone across the House to ensure that we meet expectations.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission, Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

Just for the record, I know that the right hon. Gentleman meant to refer to Mrs May as such. [Interruption.] There is no need for an apology. The right hon. Gentleman is answering very fully and correctly, and I did not want to interrupt him.

Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Scottish National Party, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

There was much to welcome in what the Minister said today, but can I take him back to the issue of existing support schemes, which are of course incredibly important for so many? In the second interim report, recommendation 13 says that

“current annual payments under the support schemes should be continued…and guaranteed for life” and that such payments should only be taken into account

“in assessing awards for future financial loss or care provision”.

It was not immediately clear to me that what the Minister said today is consistent with that recommendation and its implementation. Could he provide that clarity now, because this is very important for people listening?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

Yes I absolutely can—I have been very clear about the Government’s continuing commitment on existing support schemes. However, there is a point at which the assessment for compensation entitlement is made under the new scheme, and there will be an interaction with schemes that have come before. Options will then be set out. I want to provide reassurance on that today; the detail of how that will work out must be done with the consent and approval of the communities involved.

Photo of Stephen Kinnock Stephen Kinnock Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

I want to build on a point made by my right hon. Friend Mr Jones earlier about the risk of unscrupulous financial advisers swooping in. It is appalling even to think that it might be possible, but we have a lot of experience of that from dealing with the British Steel pension scheme, and I would be happy to discuss any of those lessons learned with the Minister.

My constituent David Farrugia tragically lost his father 40 years ago due to this appalling scandal. Can I press the Minister for more detail on the specifics of how the scheme will work for bereaved children and parents of victims? How and when will they be able to register for compensation?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. We have previously engaged on the British Steel matter and the unscrupulous exploitation of people moving from defined benefit to defined contribution schemes. That is at the top of my mind and I am applying it to my consideration of these matters.

The hon. Gentleman asked about his constituent David and bereaved children. The principle is that affected and infected individuals qualify in their own right. The passporting of affected individuals to qualify, based on the infected and the estates of infected, is clear. The details of how that process will happen will become very clear very quickly. We will make resources available through a website, and people can register for updates so that they can receive them as quickly as they wish. Forgive me, I cannot say more than that today, but I think I have set out the principles of how this will operate. The operationalisation needs to happen quickly, and I will provide updates on that in due course.

Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Reclaim, North West Leicestershire

I would like to pay tribute to my constituent Robert Angwin, who has campaigned for justice for himself and all others who have been affected by this scandal for decades.

Yesterday and today, from both sides of the House we have heard the line, “Lessons have been learned. Action will be taken.” I imagine that that is exactly what we would have heard if we were here in 1972 when the thalidomide scandal broke. Since then, we have had OxyContin, Vioxx and Primodos—the list goes on and on, all the way to the experimental covid-19 vaccines today.

Does the Minister agree that the only real lesson that has been learned has been learned by the public—that they cannot trust any Government to protect them from unsafe medicines and treatments? Crimes have been committed. It is a crime to cover up a crime. When are the arrests going to start? If they have to include current and former Members of this House, so be it.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. Sir Robert makes clear some very profound challenges to the British state that need a profound response from Government, and that will happen in due course.

Photo of Hannah Bardell Hannah Bardell Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs Team Member), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development Team Member)

My constituent Linda Cannon lost her husband after he received a blood transfusion that infected him with hepatitis C. My constituent Vera Gaskin has stage 2 chronic cirrhosis of the liver from contaminated blood. She spends her life explaining that she is not an alcoholic. What guidance or comfort does the Minister have for my constituents that anybody overseeing compensation and justice will be fully transparent and will not end up in the mess in which the expert panel of the Primodos scandal ended up?

Will the Minister give a cast-iron guarantee that the general election due to be held this year will not delay any part of this process? We cannot have a situation where the structures and procedures of this place, which have so long protected those in power and allowed them to do harm, will thwart the justice in progress for all our constituents.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The hon. Lady makes a powerful representation on behalf of Linda, Vera and so many others. I can assure her that speed is of the essence. In all circumstances I am trying to move forward, with the will of the House as it is. I cannot account for when electoral events will be triggered, but I can say that the points about sensitivity to the individual experience and the stigma and trauma associated with engaging with officialdom in all aspects need to be properly addressed through the way that the arm’s length body is operated.

Photo of Clive Lewis Clive Lewis Llafur, Norwich South

I want to put on record the tenacity of my constituent Steve Bartram, a victim of the blood scandal. He contracted hepatitis when he was seven after being experimented on. He was driven out of his home because people believed that he had an infectious disease and had to be run out. He then came to my constituency. I say to the Minister that Steve welcomes what has been said but is anxious, like thousands of others, that it will not work out. I guess he could look at a compensation scheme like the one for the Windrush scandal, where less than 10% of those who are owed compensation have received anything. Steve and many others, with good reason, are extremely anxious that the Government will follow through on this. Can the Minister ensure that they do?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. It is a reasonable characterisation that this is welcome but that there is anxiety. It is my job to meet that anxiety with practical steps that secure confidence in the passage to full delivery. I have set out those in some detail. There will be a number of documents that the hon. Gentleman can send to his constituents to support what I have said, as can all colleagues across the House. I hope that will be helpful and informative and will remove some of the anxiety that exists.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy)

It is vital that we not only thank the campaigners who have struggled through pain and loss to get to this situation but appreciate the deep public service they have carried out in exposing this outrageous scandal. Although I welcome what seems to be a comprehensive statement on compensation today, this scandal has gone on too long and should be concluded quickly for compensation to be paid. However, that is only part of the issue of justice for the campaigners. I appreciate what the Minister said about his ability to talk about future events, but will he at least commit his Government to the principle of ensuring that those involved in deliberate cover-up, adding to delay and suffering and causing death, will face justice themselves?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I cannot speak for the collective will of Government, but the hon. Gentleman makes a completely reasonable and logical case. I support the principles in what he says. We need to respond the report’s recommendations specifically, coherently and in full, and that is what we will do in due course.

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Llafur, South Shields

Yesterday’s apology and the compensation announced today is the beginning of justice for the thousands of lives lost and ruined. The Minister will know that Sir Brian Langstaff found “downright deception” and “an attitude of denial”, and that he was clear that the scandal has been no accident. Public service is an honour that comes with great responsibility. Individuals and organisations have failed in that responsibility and betrayed that honour. I heard the Minister’s earlier responses, but will he at least indicate to us when the Government will express a view on criminal charges?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Lady for her powerful representation on that matter. I cannot give her a categorical assurance, but by setting out the clear opportunity to discuss the report in its different dimensions, hopefully in a few weeks’ time, I hope we will start that process. Other Ministers will lead on some of the matters and where the evidence leads us will determine our options, but she speaks for many hon. Members across the House when she says that these are serious matters that need a serious response from different elements of Government.

Photo of Helen Morgan Helen Morgan Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Levelling up, Housing and Communities), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Local Government)

I want to acknowledge three of my constituents who have been in touch over the past few weeks: one lost her brother and her cousin as a result of treatment for haemophilia; and two, including Karen Pearce, have suffered lifelong health problems as a result of being infected. I have been in this place for rather less time than many of my colleagues—less than two and a half years—but, just in that short period, I am struck by the number of scandals involving huge institutional cover-ups. I echo the comment, made by colleagues from all parties, that we must have a duty of candour, because we will repeat mistakes again and again until we have that.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Lady for point about a duty of candour, which several hon. Members have made. The Government will reflect very carefully and respond in due course.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Llafur, Eltham

I welcome the Paymaster General’s statement, but many of us have been coming here for the past year asking for a response to Sir Brian Langstaff’s interim report from last April. We have been told that the Government are moving at pace, but there is no evidence of that, even with today’s statement. Sir Brian Langstaff has made some clear recommendations about how he wants oversight of the recommendations going forward. That must involve the victims, because that is why we are here today. The victims, who have doggedly and determinedly demanded that they have justice in this affair, have brought us to this point, where the Paymaster General is making a statement, and they must have oversight of how we respond to Sir Brian Langstaff’s report, just as the House must have. Members from across the House have been trying to hold the Government to account. The Horizon scheme has an advisory body to oversee compensation, which includes hon. Members from this House and the other place. Does the Minister envisage having a similar advisory body for this compensation scheme?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I do not think the hon. Gentleman can characterise what I have announced today as not making significant progress. I am not here to claim credit for it or to say what it is attributed to, other than the work of Sir Brian Langstaff and those who have campaigned. The immediate next steps will be the work of Sir Robert Francis—this is at the core of what I have said—to engage with the infected and affected community, and to define the regulations that the Government are rightly obliged to bring to the House within three months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent. The hon. Gentleman makes another point about how the House can be involved in the accountability of that arm’s length body. I am happy to reflect on that and come back at another point.

Photo of Dan Carden Dan Carden Llafur, Liverpool, Walton

May I put on the record my absolute admiration for the victims, their families and loved ones throughout the process? I pay tribute to my constituent Susan Hallwood and her partner Dave McCall. Susan had three sons, all of whom had haemophilia. Two received contaminated blood, and both contracted HIV and died of AIDS: Brian aged 16, and Stephen aged nine. Susan gave evidence at the inquiry, and I thank her for doing so. It is right that they are receiving an apology and compensation, but of course that will never be enough. I ask the Minister to address the issue of individual accountability, for those culpable of doing wrong, and organisational accountability. What can he do to ensure this is not another example of compensation without accountability to add to Hillsborough, Windrush and other scandals we have seen?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The hon. Gentleman speaks powerfully about his constituents Susan and David and their family. He also makes the point that compensation by itself is clearly not enough. With respect to the wider accountability of institutions, hospitals and civil servants, and the interaction between civil servants, Government Ministers and the NHS, there is a lot of complexity about how we respond appropriately and thoughtfully, both on the cases taken together and individually. I hope he will respect what I am saying and that we can engage on this in the Chamber at a future point.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe)

I was contacted this morning by a constituent who, to the best of my knowledge, has never come forward before; I am still trying to establish that. As a 12-year-old girl, she received a blood transfusion that was infected with hepatitis C. She has lived with that infection for 70 years, because she was infected not in the 1970s but in the 1950s. Will the Minister give an assurance that the compensation and other support that has been outlined today will be available to all victims, regardless of how long ago they were infected? Will he outline what he is doing to ensure that others, such as my constituent, do not miss out simply because they did not realise this applies to them?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The eligibility is clear: people who were infected by NHS blood, blood products and infected tissue qualify. The only challenge is how to verify that from records from a long time ago. However, such challenges can be met and we need to find ways of doing so.

Photo of Beth Winter Beth Winter Llafur, Cwm Cynon

I pay tribute to all those infected and affected in my constituency of Cynon Valley, in Wales and beyond, in particular Lynne Kelly, the chair of Haemophilia Wales, who has campaigned tirelessly, over many decades, for justice. The inquiry’s compensation report recommended that an interim payment be made to

“recognise the deaths of people to date unrecognised”, including to bereaved parents, children and siblings. The Minister met with Haemophilia Wales a fortnight ago and will be aware there are 28 such cases in Wales. In his statement he made reference to interim payments, but will he clarify that interim payments for previously unrecognised deaths, including those in Wales, will be made? Will he be specific about when individuals will receive those payments? Will they be paid through the Wales infected blood support scheme, or will they have to wait for the UK compensation scheme to be established?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The hon. Lady is right to pay tribute to Lynne Kelly, whom I met in Cardiff. To clarify, I have been talking about two interim payments. We have put one payment into legislation to provide £100,000 to the estates of the deceased infected, where previously they have not received that payment. We are working through how that will work with the infected blood support schemes. I cannot update the House on that at this moment because we are working with the schemes to determine that.

The second interim payment for the living infected is £210,000, building on the £100,00 at the end of 2022. That will happen within 90 days, starting in the summer, and it will be given through the existing infected blood compensation scheme’s interim payments in order to expedite it as quickly as possible. Then we will update in the autumn with respect to the balance in payments, which, as Members will recognise, is part of a bigger payment that people will be entitled to, and how that works according to the journey of work and engagement with the communities over the next few weeks.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee

For more than 20 years, I have supported constituents caught up in this unprecedented scandal and tragedy. I wish to mention just two of them: Bill Wright, whom the Minister knows, who has led Haemophilia Scotland with such energy and enthusiasm for the past three decades; and Tricia Titheridge, who introduced me to the scandal back in 2001 when I was first elected. Unfortunately, she cannot be with us because she died of AIDS-related conditions in 2013.

I wish to say well done to the Minister, because I think he has delivered. He has answered questions and reassured people genuinely well about some of the outstanding issues. I had suspected that I would be called last in this statement, so I will just say to him that he will know what is now required. I think he has the compensation side of it right, but it is the responsibility and accountability side of the equation that now has to be addressed. He has talked about a debate when we come back after Whitsun. He has hinted that other Departments will be looking at all of this, but we need to know what tangible effort and energy will be put into this to ensure that the people responsible are held to account for the decades of obfuscation, of not taking responsibility and for the lies that came to us as Members of Parliament from Ministers and officials. When will we hear about the solid action that will be taken to address all of this?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words, particularly his words about Bill Wright, whom I enjoyed meeting, and who has campaigned on this so hard and for so long. Bill and his colleagues engaged with me in a constructive way, asking me reasonable but tough questions, and I hope that I have answered some of those today. The hon. Gentleman draws me from the compensation to other elements, and I am frustrated that I cannot offer him more clarity today, but he puts on record the need for a substantive response on a number of other elements beyond compensation. He can be assured of my continuing commitment to deliver on that journey to full implementation of compensation, as I have set out.

Photo of Michael Shanks Michael Shanks Shadow Minister (Scotland)

Twenty years ago, the late former chair of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum, Philip Dolan, said that, for years, every time we have reached the top of the mountain, the cloud lifts and there is another mountain to climb. I think, from the Minister’s statement today, there is some sense that there might not be another mountain to climb, but there is a need for some transparency, particularly in what he has said about eligibility, tariffs, the appeal process and, crucially, timelines, so that people can have confidence about when this will happen. Will people have access to legal aid if they wish to appeal their case?

On the point about existing compensation schemes, there has been some concern from a number of people about what has been announced today. In answer to Stuart C. McDonald, the Minister said that they would be shaped by people, and that these schemes would not simply be abolished, but he has put a firm deadline of 31 March 2025, so can he outline exactly how people will be part of that process so they do not feel that they have lost out once again in this process?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The hon. Gentleman asks a number of questions. I have not said that the existing schemes will stop on 31 March 2025. What I have committed to is that thereafter there will be a process, uncertain at this point, with respect to when individuals will have their full assessment made, and I have made some assertions on how that needs to work. I have not set out some of the other things around accountability, transparency and so on, because they need to be informed by the communities, through the process that Sir Robert Francis will be leading in the coming weeks. I hope it will be a constructive, iterative process with the Government in order that the output of that work will subsequently lead us to the right position in terms of the regulations that we bring before the House.

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (COP26), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (House of Commons Business)

May I start by paying tribute to two of my constituents here today? Rachel and Justine Gordon-Smith have fought an extraordinary battle on behalf of their father over many years. I pay tribute to their strength and ability to continue in the face of what sometimes looked like intransigence from the Government. They and the infected blood community will, I know, welcome much of what the Minister has announced today, but they are understandably wary of Government after the deceptions and delays of the past. Can he guarantee full transparency in the deliberations of the arm’s length body, and does he agree that appropriate governance, as he says, would be achieved by including representatives of the community as members?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Indeed, I have met Justine Gordon-Smith, who, having lost her father, has been a tenacious campaigner on behalf of so many. I can confirm that we will do everything we can to ensure that we find a way to work with all infected and affected communities—there are considerable differences between them in their views on how things should be conducted—as these regulations are formed, and also to ensure that the right oversight takes place so that this arm’s length body will be something that they can rely on and have full confidence in, wherever they are in the UK.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Six constituents have been in touch with me who have been infected and affected by this awful scandal. Many of them still want to maintain anonymity, such is the stigma that persists today about the illnesses that they have contracted, but I was very pleased to see that my constituent Maria was there yesterday. She first came to see me in December 2015. Eight-and-a-half years, on top of the long time that she already had to wait, is a long and arduous journey. I am glad and I hope that she and all those infected and affected got what they wanted from Sir Brian Langstaff’s report yesterday.

I wish to ask the Minister about what he said in his statement about interim payments. I am not clear whether the six constituents who have been in touch with me will be eligible for those because he said that interim payments will be made to living infected beneficiaries, and to the estates of those who passed away between now and payments being made. It is not clear to me whether, if somebody tragically passed away yesterday, their estates would be eligible for that; nor is it clear from the interim report whether all such people would be eligible until the final scheme is in place. It would be perverse, would it not, if children whose parents have died or adults who have tragically lost their children might not be eligible for these interim payments. Can I ask for some clarity on that eligibility because there are people who should not be losing out—they have already suffered too much—and they should be eligible for these payments as soon as possible.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. I noted her presence there yesterday, alongside me. I am happy to engage with her to clarify the position for her individual constituents. I am reluctant to make binding assertions on individuals on the Floor of the House because I do not want to mislead her or anyone else. But I would be very happy, if she writes to me, to respond to her as fully as I can.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is a real pleasure to ask a question. First, may I thank the Government for their apology and for their compensation? I thank the Minister for his tone and his words, which were very humbly spoken, and which I think encouraged us all across this Chamber. That is not easy to do, given all the questions that are put forward.

Victims have highlighted what they deem to be a lack of recognition and a lack of accountability. Today, there is a recognition, yet I feel that within the accountability there must be safeguards to ensure that similar medical experimental methods cannot be permitted to take hold and bring these devastating results ever again. Does the Minister not agree that, while we cannot put right the wrong, we can and must safeguard future children and adults and that this dreadful family-destroying, heartbreaking, life-changing lesson is one which we have all unwillingly and, indeed, shamefully learnt?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his thoughtful question, and I put on record my satisfaction at being in Belfast as part of the engagement exercise I undertook. In some ways, some of what Sir Brian Langstaff spoke about we could not envisage happening again, because of changes that have happened in the health service and the way things operate 40 or 50 years on, but what he talks about is much deeper: it is about the culture of transparency, dependency and candour between civil servants, the NHS and Government. That is a much more complicated set of issues to meet appropriately and fully. If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I will not be able to respond to his specific point today. However, he articulates the challenge that we need to meet as a Government, and I look forward to playing my part, whatever that is, in meeting it.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission, Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

That concludes proceedings on the statement. I thank the Minister for having taken a very large number of questions, for having remained at the Dispatch Box for well over two hours and for having answered every question thoroughly and carefully.