Clause 2 — Eligible people with diffuse mesothelioma

Part of Mesothelioma Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 7th January 2014.

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Photo of David Anderson David Anderson Labour, Blaydon 4:30 pm, 7th January 2014

I will try to keep my voice going if I can. I appreciate the work the Minister has done but this debate saddens me. We have got a situation where employer liability was paid to these insurance companies. They have had their money and they have run with it. People have died, and that was not a surprise. We have known for a century that asbestos kills people, so the fact that people would need compensation was not a surprise. The whole argument about the cut-off date, and that we cannot just spring this on the insurance companies, is nonsense. Looking back over the last decade, at the Fairchild rules, the Barker rules and the Rothwell rules, we can see that those were all cases in which the industry tried to get out of its responsibilities.

I raised this point with the Prime Minister on 18 December. I asked him to intervene to try to resolve the issue and he said:

“I will obviously look at what he has to say”.—[Hansard, 18 December 2013; Vol. 572, c. 732.]

I understand the time constraints that he has been under since then, but will the Minister tell us whether the Prime Minister has had a chance to look at the Bill? Where has the Prime Minister been to take that look? Has he been to the TUC? The trade unions have supported people through this morass for decades. Has he been to the asbestos victim support groups, including those who have been here today, who have real-life experience of these matters? Has he been to the employment lawyers who have sat with the people while they have died, and with their families?