Infected blood vote: government narrowly loses as MPs back compensation scheme for NHS victims after Tory revolt
The UK government has lost a vote in the House of Commons on a plan to set up a compensation scheme for victims of the NHS contaminated blood scandal.
In the first defeat for a whipped vote since 2019 and the first for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, MPs voted to pass the amendment by 246 vote to 242. This included 22 Tory MPs who revolted from the party whip, such as former ministers Sir Robert Buckland, Damian Green, Dame Andrea Jenkyns and Chloe Smith.
The amendment was introduced by Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson, who said after the government's defeat: “I am very pleased that my amendment new clause 27 has been passed, despite government opposition. This will now put in law that a body will be established to pay compensation to those infected and affected by the contaminated blood scandal within three months of the Act passing.
“This is an important step forward in what has been an extraordinarily long fight for justice. However, it is not the end. There is still much work to be done to fully implement Sir Brian (Langstaff)’s recommendations and bring justice to those who do not have the luxury of waiting.”
The scandal saw thousands of patients infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s due to the use of contaminated blood products in NHS hospitals. MPs campaigning for more support for victims have urged further action due to the fact that someone who has the infected blood is believed to die "every four days".
Under the proposed scheme, the infected person or their bereaved partner can receive an interim payment of £100,000, in a scheme now due to be set up three months after the bill becomes law. Opposing the amendment in the Commons, the government agreed that there was a valid argument in offering compensation to victims, but it would wait until the infected blood inquiry drew to a close to set up a scheme.
Haemophilia Society chief executive Kate Burt said: “The Prime Minister should be ashamed that it has taken cross-party political pressure and public opinion to force his government to do the right thing and commit to a full compensation scheme for people impacted by the contaminated blood scandal. He fails to understand that compensation is about so much more than money. For the families of those who died, compensation is recognition of their suffering and an acknowledgement that their beloved child, parent, sibling or partner was valued beyond measure.
“We thank MPs from all parties for dragging the government towards urgent action in support of thousands of people who have already waited far too long for truth and justice.”