§ Mr. Ashley
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when the clinical trials of the new whooping cough vaccine being developed at Porton Down will take place; how the trials will be organised; if the informed consent of parents will be sought in every case; if redress will be available for any child injured in the course of these trials; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
Development of a new whooping cough vaccine at the centre for applied microbiology and research is continuing. Until studies to determine potency and toxicity have been satisfactorily concluded, it will not be possible to proceed to the production of a vaccine, and I cannot at this stage predict when that might be. Proposals for clinical trials will be subject to approval by an ethical committee, which would have available to it guidance from professional bodies on ethics in research, including guidance on the need for informed consent. As regards redress, the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979 would apply to the same extent to any child injured as a result of the trials as to any other child who is vaccinated against whooping cough. Compensation may also be awarded by the civil courts in any case where it is established that negligent administration of a vaccine has given rise to liability for damages.