HC Deb 17 March 2003 vol 401 c615
5. Annabelle Ewing (Perth)

When he will reach a conclusion as to the impact on the payment of social security benefit of the Scottish Executive's proposals to compensate people who have contracted hepatitis C from contaminated blood products. [102949]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Malcolm Wicks)

Discussions about those proposals and their impact on the payment of social security benefits are still ongoing. No conclusions have yet been reached and it would not be appropriate for me to comment further.

Annabelle Ewing

I thank the Minister for his answer, which I find deeply disappointing. He will be aware that the Scottish Parliament and Executive have made clear their wish to compensate hepatitis C sufferers. As there is already a precedent for exempting similar payments from the operation of the clawback system, why will not the Minister today confirm that Westminster will not frustrate the will of the Scottish Parliament to pay compensation to hepatitis C sufferers?

Malcolm Wicks

Although suffering from hepatitis C is a serious matter, the hon. Lady's question raises a number of complex issues, not least to do with the legal competence of the Scottish Executive. That point has been acknowledged by the Scottish Minister for Health and Community Care. We need to consider advice carefully and I am not yet in a position to make a decision.