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Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford, Conservative)

What steps his Department is taking to support people with mesothelioma.

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Steve Webb (The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions; Thornbury and Yate, Liberal Democrat)

The Department provides support for sufferers of mesothelioma by way of compensation paid through the industrial injuries scheme. The main benefit is a weekly industrial injuries disablement benefit, while lump sum compensation payments are also available through the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 and the diffuse mesothelioma scheme 2008.

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Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford, Conservative)

I thank the Minister for that reply. He will be aware that, because of its shipbuilding and industrial heritage, Medway has the second highest rate of mesothelioma deaths in the UK. His Department has been in active discussions with various stakeholders regarding a compensation fund of last resort for some time now. Given that we are expecting a spike in mesothelioma deaths in the next few years, will he advise us when the discussions will conclude and the outcomes will ensue?

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Steve Webb (The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions; Thornbury and Yate, Liberal Democrat)

My hon. Friend is a powerful advocate on behalf of her constituents on this terrible condition. We accept that this process is taking longer to conclude than we had hoped. I can assure her, however, that my noble Friend Lord Freud is continuing in active discussion with the insurance industry and others, and that we are determined to bring forward our proposals as soon as possible.

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Nicholas Dakin (Scunthorpe, Labour)

Is “as soon as possible” within the next six months or the next year?

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Steve Webb (The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions; Thornbury and Yate, Liberal Democrat)

Rather than set an arbitrary deadline, we are keen to conclude as rapidly as possible. One important step forward has been the setting up of the employers’ liability tracing organisation. Often, people worked for firms many years ago, making employer liability insurance difficult to come by. This tracing service is helping people to get the insurance payouts to which they have every entitlement.