Both of Swindon’s Conservative MPs voted against the government yesterday, and in favour of establishing a body to compensate people given infected blood in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

About  4,800 people with blood-clotting disorders were given blood infected with HIV or hepatitis C  40 years or more ago – and  both North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson and South Swindon’s Sir Robert Buckland voted for a Labour amendment tabled by Dame Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North to the government’s  Victims and Prisoners bill.

The government opposed the motion but 23 Conservatives voted for it, inflicting Prime Minister’s Rishi Sunak’s first Commons defeat – by just four votes.

The government has previously said there is a moral case for the compensatory body – but is waiting for an official inquiry to report, with that expected in March - but many of the victims of the infected blood have already died, and campaigners for the remainder say there is no time to lose.

Mr Tomlinson said: “There has rightly been longstanding cross-party support for delivering compensation for the victims of the blood scandal.

“Having both served as the Disabilities Minister and respected the constructive campaign of Dame Johnson I understand with a victim sadly lost every four days we absolutely needed to get a firm date in place.

“The government has fully accepted the will of the House and not a moment too soon.

Robert Buckland told BBC Radio Wiltshire that the need to get the bill through the House of Lords and through Royal Assent would take its implementation to summer next year, after the publication of the inquiry’s report.

He said: “I can’t see the problem. It’s about a mechanism.

“The government has quite rightly accepted the principle of compensating  victims who are literally dying  after waiting so long for justice to be done.”