This is an open letter to MPs in the Ilkeston Advertiser circulation area regarding the Mesothelioma Bill from the Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team (DAST).
I wish to ask you to seek amendments to this Bill when it receives its second reading in the House of Commons.
The Mesothelioma Bill seeks to remedy a gross injustice resulting from insurers’ destruction of employers’ liability insurance records over many decades. Much as we welcome this long-overdue Bill, which compels insurers to face up to their liabilities, we think that the Bill does not go far enough, and must be improved to provide the support that asbestos victims and their families need, and truly deserve.
The Bill provides for an administrative ‘tariff’ scheme which pays 75% of average compensation, based upon age, to mesothelioma sufferers who can prove negligence. Only those mesothelioma sufferers diagnosed after 25 July 2012, the date the scheme was announced, are eligible to apply for a payment.
What the Bill should provide: The Bill should provide a commitment to set up a scheme to pay all asbestos victims.
The Bill excludes 50% of all asbestos victims; those suffering from asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. To include these victims in the scheme would represent just 20% of the total cost. The government justifies this exclusion, saying causation is simpler for mesothelioma as there is only one known cause of this disease, unlike other asbestos diseases. Yet, a long-standing, successful, administrative scheme pays compensation to all asbestos victims who can prove negligent exposure atspecific asbestos factories.
The Bill should provide for eligibility from the date of the initial consultation, February 10 2010. The Bill excludes all those diagnosed prior to 25 July 2012, the date the Minister announced the scheme, which is an arbitrary date.
The Minister argues that insurers have not had the opportunity to reserve for payments until the announcement on July 252012. We do not accept this argument as insurers were put on notice in February 2010 that the then Minister intended to set up a payment scheme.
The Bill should provide 100% of average compensation paid to mesothelioma sufferers. It is time innocent asbestos victims were put first: that is fair and that is what we seek.
Lump sum payments should be recovered at the same percentage as compensation.
I think that it is wrong to recover Government lump sum payments at 100% and pay compensation at less than 100%.
I am appealing to you, on behalf of mesothelioma sufferers, and their families, in your constituency, to improve this scheme to support innocent Mesothelioma victims who have, and still are, paying with their lives by merely going to work and now need justice.
Chair of DAST.