Clause 2 — Eligible people with diffuse mesothelioma

Part of Mesothelioma Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 7th January 2014.

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Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne East 2:30 pm, 7th January 2014

My hon. Friend will have his share of constituency cases, just as I do, and for the same reason: the industrial heritage of his constituency. We know that the profile of the victims is forecast to be different from the historical legacy, but it depends on the effectiveness of the protection measures we as a House have put in place. That was done with all-party consent—in fact, I think I was the Minister who moved the last set of regulations covering asbestos. We do not yet know how effective they are, however. As has been said from the Opposition Front Bench, we expect the number of cases to peak about now—in a year or so—but we do not know that that will be the case. I hope it will be, but we need to maintain our vigilance. The new cases will come from building contractors, people dismantling, rather than erecting, structures, and people who have come into contact through, perhaps, thinking they were dealing with a solid piece of material and who then hammered a nail into it or scratched it and breathed in the dust.

Exposure once is enough to cause mesothelioma and the consequences are fatal, so it is important that we take this issue seriously. I know the Minister is doing so and that the House is attempting to do so as well, but I think we should have it in the forefront of our minds that we may be returning to this issue in future.

The scheme before us today is targeted on people in a very particular position: they cannot find an insurer or they cannot trace an employer.