Thank you to those who contacted me, urging me to vote for my Labour colleague Diana Johnson MP’s amendment compelling the government to provide compensation for victims of the contaminated blood scandal.
Diana tabled the amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill because it’s high time the government stopped dithering and delivered the compensation victims of this scandal need and deserve. I’m absolutely delighted that I was able to vote in favour and that the amendment was passed by the House of Commons. Now the House has made its view clear, the government need to get on with it and quickly deliver that compensation.
Given the Tories have a fifty-seat majority, it’s not often in this parliament that Labour have managed to defeat the government, demonstrating the strength of feeling in the House on this issue. But I’m also struck by the fact that the vote was won by just four votes, the same as the number of byelection victories Labour won last year. If that’s the difference having just a few extra Labour MPs in parliament can make, imagine what winning a general election could do!
I have followed this issue closely, and as a newly elected MP way back in 2007 I supported a cross-party motion welcoming the announcement of an inquiry. My view since then is unchanged – that it is vital that those impacted get the answers, compensation, and closure they deserve. It’s appalling to me that fifteen years have passed since then and we’re still in a position where the government are having to be dragged kicking and screaming to tackle action to deliver compensation to those who have been impacted.
I’m sure this has been a long and painful journey for all those affected, and I hope that when the inquiry publishes its full findings next year victims and their families are able to get the answers they are owed. Critically, I also hope that lessons are learned to ensure that a tragedy such as this one, and the poor response subsequently, can never happen again.