Rishi Sunak faced a loss in Parliament as members voted to create a compensatory group for those affected by the contaminated blood crisis.
The members of parliament voted 246 to 242 in support of a change to the victims and prisoners legislation, which will mandate the government to establish a committee to oversee compensation within three months of the legislation being passed.
Sunak’s first defeat as prime minister came with the passing of the amendment, thanks to the backing of 22 Tory members of parliament.
An investigation is currently underway into a scandal that occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Approximately 4,800 individuals with the blood condition haemophilia were given blood from donors who were infected with HIV and hepatitis C, either through donation or sale.
Previously, the government stated that there was a justification for providing compensation and that steps were being taken to prepare for it. However, they also expressed a desire to wait for the results of the investigation before proceeding.
The investigation, overseen by Sir Brian Langstaff, was initially scheduled to release its ultimate report in the previous month, but is now anticipated to present its conclusions in March.
Approximately half of those impacted by the controversy have passed away, and activists stress the urgency of the situation.
The Conservative MP, Sir Robert Buckland, supported the amendment along with other members on his party’s side.
The announcement of the vote in the House of Commons was met with cheers.
Dame Diana Johnson, a Labour Member of Parliament, proposed the amendment and stated that it is a significant progress in the prolonged struggle for justice. However, she also recognized that it is not the final resolution.
She stated that there is still a lot of work to be accomplished in order to ensure justice for individuals who cannot afford to wait.
Before the vote, Edward Argar, the minister of justice, expressed that the scandal “should have never occurred” and that the government has a “deep understanding” of the purpose behind the amendment.
He stated, “My thoughts are with those affected by this terrible tragedy, as well as everyone in this House.”