Rishi Sunak suffers humiliating defeat as Tory rebels vote to create body to help victims of the infected blood scandal
Rishi Sunak suffered a humiliating Commons defeat last night after Tory rebels voted to create a new body to help victims of the infected blood scandal.
In a last-minute bid to ward off a rebellion, justice minister Edward Argar pledged the Government would set up a compensation scheme ‘in line’ with the Labour-backed proposals.
But 23 Tory backbenchers defied the PM’s three-line whip by voting in favour of the Opposition’s amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill.
Mr Sunak’s majority was wiped out as MPs voted last night by 246 to 242 in favour of the proposal. It marks his first Commons defeat as PM and the first defeat on a whipped vote since the last general election in 2019.
The amendment, tabled by Labour’s Dame Diana Johnson, would establish a body for a full compensation scheme for thousands of patients infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.
Rishi Sunak’s majority was wiped out as MPs voted last night by 246 to 242 in favour of the proposal (Pictured: Prime Minister’s Questions last week)
The amendment, tabled by Labour’s Dame Diana Johnson, would establish a body for a full compensation scheme for thousands of patients infected with HIV and hepatitis C (Pictured: Prime Minister’s Questions last week)
It would ensure this was created by a High Court judge within three months of the legislation becoming law. Interim compensation payments of £100,000 were paid in 2022 but left many victims out.
Earlier in the day, the Government doubled down on its position, with Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer saying it was ‘appropriate’ to first ‘await the outcome’ of an inquiry into the scandal. This is set to be published in March by chairman Sir Brian Langstaff.
But last night Mr Argar revealed that the Government’s position had changed.
He told the Commons ministers had ‘great sympathy’ for Dame Diana’s amendment, saying: ‘I can therefore confirm the government will bring forward its own amendment when the Bill reaches the Lords.’
Theresa May set up an Infected Blood Inquiry in 2017 to investigate the scandal and possible compensation.
Ministers have accepted the moral case for payouts but had wanted to wait until the inquiry delivers its verdict, expected in March, before taking further action. The Treasury estimates the final compensation bill will end up being between £5billion and £22billion.
Around 30,000 people in Britain are believed to have contracted HIV and hepatitis C from contaminated blood.
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