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New Clause 1 - Establishing additional schemes

Part of Mesothelioma Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 12th December 2013.

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Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 3:30 pm, 12th December 2013

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for a very thoughtful speech on behalf of his constituents and many others, not just in the north-east. As he said,  there will be sufferers across the country. I had the sad honour the other day of having a discussion on Radio 2 with a relatively young man who had lost his wife when she had done no more than be a teacher who wanted to make the classroom look wonderful for her pupils. She had died of mesothelioma.

As the shadow Minister said, the long title and short title of the Bill are quite defined. It is important that that is understood. However, Lord Freud made understandable commitments in the other place to work with other Departments, researchers and groups to develop better information and analysis, so that other groups could be as defined as the groups in the Bill, and also get compensation from a fund of last resort if has to happen, although we all hope that would not be the case. I reiterate that here today.

Lord Freud, Lord Howe, who spoke movingly in Committee in the other place, and I work closely together. Although the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East has left for understandable reasons, this is where the research becomes so important. The reason why the Bill has got so close to getting the money to those who desperately need it is that the research and analysis were definitive.

I pay tribute to the Asbestos and Mesothelioma Support Group. We do not always agree on the figures, but we all agree on one thing. We need to get help in this case. We will work together. That is the commitment that the shadow Minister wanted. We will try to get our figures as close to theirs as possible. I am willing to work with anybody who can come forward and show us a way to get help to people who are not getting it from any other source.