On 7 January 2014 amendments to the Mesothelioma Bill [HL] will be put including an amendment tabled by Tracey Crouch MP and signed by eight MPs calling for an increase in payment to mesothelioma sufferers from 75% of average compensation to 80%. MPs are:

Tracey Crouch MP (Con)

Stephen Phillips MP (Con)

Paul Goggins MP (Lab)

Andrew Bingham MP (Con)

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP (Con)

John Leech MP (Lib Dem)

Stephen Barclay MP (Con)

Kate Green MP (Lab)

The Mesothelioma Bill provides for a payment scheme, funded by a levy on active insurers, for mesothelioma sufferers who were negligently exposed to asbestos by an employer who is no longer trading and the employer’s liability insurer cannot be traced. The scheme is in response to the Labour Government consultation on accessing compensation for those who are unable to trace an insurer which closed in May 2010.

The Government estimates that mesothelioma sufferers have, to date, lost £800 million due to untraced insurance and has described the insurance industry’s failure to maintain insurance records as ‘a horrific blemish’ on their reputation. But, In Committee, the Government resisted all proposals to improve the Mesothelioma Bill.

On behalf of the Forum which represents asbestos victims Tony Whitston, Forum Chair, says,

There is agreement across Parliament that mesothelioma sufferers should, ideally, receive 100% compensation, and there is a groundswell of opinion that an 80% payment should be the very minimum payment, and is manageable without the need for insurers to pass on costs to business.

We believe that the insurance industry can give some leeway. After all, they are to receive a gift of £17 m and a loan of £30 m from Government, as well as limiting payments to mesothelioma sufferers only, who have to pay back 100% of benefits despite receiving much less than 100% in compensation. We are calling on MPs to support the amendment to increase payments to 80%”

The 2010 Labour Government consultation provided for payments to all those who suffered injury or disease though employers’ negligence but were unable to trace the insurer of such companies who are no longer trading.

On 25 July 2012, the Coalition Government announced its intention to bring forward the Mesothelioma Bill which provided for a payment to mesothelioma sufferers at 70% of average compensation paid according to age. Fifty per cent of asbestos victims were excluded from the scheme. Payments are backdated to 25 July 2012 and Government is giving £17 million and a £30 million loan to assist insurers. Benefits are to be recovered at 100% despite lower compensation payments.

The Mesothelioma Bill commenced its passage in the House of Lords where payments were increased from 70% to 75%.