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Thalidomide Trust - Djanogly Calls for Brown to reverse his decision


29th October 2002

Jonathan Djanogly today announced that he has applied for a debate to be held in the House of Commons in order to bring the Government to account concerning its refusal to grant tax relief to Thalidomide victims, who recieve payments from the Thalidomide

Jonathan Djanogly, the Member of Parliament for the Huntingdon Constituency, today announced that he has applied for a debate to be held in the House of Commons in order to bring the Government to account concerning its refusal to grant tax relief to Thalidomide victims, who recieve payments from the Thalidomide Trust.

The Trust, which is based in St Neots, was set up as a charity to administer ongoing compensation offered by the company Distillers to the victims of the drug.

In 1975, 1979 and 1996, payments made to the Trust were made on the basis of offsetting the effect of tax upon the distributions of the Trust to Thalidomide sufferers.

In mid 2001 John Major, the then Member of Parliament for Huntingdon, wrote to the Chancellor, Gordon Brown MP, requesting that similar tax treatment be awarded by the Government to a further payment into the Trust made by Diageo. After delaying his response for over one and a half years, and despite receiving two letters and two written questions made by Mr Major's successor, Jonathan Djanogly MP, Mr Brown has now finally replied to say that the Government is unwilling to grant tax relief to the Trust. If the Government does not reverse its position, total Government revenues from the Thalidomide Trust are expected to exceed £10m at today's values, over the next twenty years.

Mr Djanogly said:

"A clear understanding of every Government who has been involved with the Trust since its establishment in 1974 has been that Government should not make a profit from the victims of Thalidomide, of whom there are still almost 500 surviving in the UK.

Thalidomide victims, many of whom suffer from very severe disabilities, receive an average £11,000 a year from the Trust and deserve the maximum amount possible from Trust payments to them.

The Trust, the Thalidomide victims themselves, as well as everyone who I have spoken to on this matter, are shocked at Gordon Brown's decision not to reaward the tax concession to the Trust on this occasion. There is no precedent to be set here as the Trust is a unique organisation and equivalent settlements made today could be established in such a way that payments would be tax exempt.

I urge the Government to rethink its position on this matter, which I can only characterise as mean and uncaring of the real needs of an extremely vulnerable section of our society, who fully deserve the full benefit of monies set aside for their welfare. To highlight this issue in the fullest manner possible through the Parliamentary process, I shall be calling for a debate to be held, with the support of the Conservative Front Bench."



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