Clause 2 — Eligible people with diffuse mesothelioma

Part of Mesothelioma Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 3:00 pm on 7th January 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne East 3:00 pm, 7th January 2014

I am grateful to the Minister for that intervention, and for its tone. The incentivisation argument is a distasteful one, and I am glad that the Government are not associating themselves with it. That makes it clear that the argument is about affordability within the parameters of the scheme.

I accept that the case for 100% compensation cannot convincingly be made, even by me, if the test is affordability within the parameters of the scheme. Amendment 1 proposes a figure of 80%, and whether that would be affordable within the parameters of the scheme is a finer point. I am not giving in, however. I believe that the victims deserve 100% compensation, but I understand that, if the Government are saying that the test should be the parameters of the negotiated scheme, we will have to maximise the money available to the victims within those parameters. We have all used the useful chart produced by the Minister’s Department as the factual background to the debate. The outcome will depend on whether we factor the percentages over four years or whether we take a longer, 10-year view. The Minister will not be surprised to hear that I take the longer view because I want the victims to have more money.

In determining whether the proposals are affordable within the parameters of the scheme, the Minister needs to explain two points. First, he must explain why 80% compensation would not be affordable, on his own figures. My submission is that it would be if it were spread over a longer time period and therefore cost less per year.

The second point involves the cost of lawyers. This is set out in regulations, and the Minister is right to say that it should not be in the Bill itself, but the legal costs are going to have to be met. The estimate was £2,000 per case, but the figure then rose to £7,000. It is not clear which is the right figure. I do not want to mislead anyone; the cost will not come out of the money awarded to the victim, but it will come out of the overall cost of the scheme. The question of whether the cost is £2,000 or £7,000, or somewhere in between, will therefore make a difference. Will the Minister tell us what the correct figure is?