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Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been paid by his Department in fees to each firm of solicitors dealing with coal mining industrial injury compensation under the British Coal Claims Handling Agreement; how many (a) claims have been made and (b) cases have been settled by each firm; and how much has been paid out in compensation through each firm. 
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many medicals for (a) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, (b) vibration white finger and (c) hearing loss have taken place at the Union of Democratic Mineworkers' office, Berry Hill, Mansfield since 1999; and at what cost to his Department. 
Malcolm Wicks: 7,714 medicals in total in relation to vibration white finger have taken place at Berry Hill, Mansfield since 1999. This figure excludes the pilot examinations that took place up to 1 September 1999. The Department's claims handlers do not record how many chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or hearing loss medicals have taken place at individual centres. The Department therefore is unable to assess the total cost of the medicals undertaken at Berry Hill.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what processes are in place to ensure that deceased claims under the miners compensation scheme are submitted by genuine relatives. 
The Department's Claims Handlers (Capita) will only issue settlement payments under the schemes once they are in receipt of the appropriate documentation (Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration)
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showing the legal beneficiary of a deceased miner's claim. At the onset of a claim it is the responsibility of the solicitors registering the case to ensure the person they are representing will ultimately be the entitled beneficiary of any compensation.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many appeals to medical examinations have been (a) pursued and (b) accepted since 1999 under the Miners Compensation Scheme. 
Malcolm Wicks: Since 1 January 1999, 44,154 appeals relating to respiratory disease medical examinations and 4,182 appeals relating to vibration white finger medical examinations have been lodged. The number of successful appeals is not recorded separately but incorporated into all claims in which revised offers have been issued. Therefore, this figure is not available.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what verification process is used for the results of medical examinations under the Miners Compensation Scheme, for (a) the Government and (b) the claimant; and how often this process has been used. 
Malcolm Wicks: For both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vibration white finger, the medical contractors have well developed clinical governance processes in place to assure the medical quality of the work undertaken. The quality of the reports is verified by trained medical auditors using a defined audit process of statistically valid sample cases. In addition, an independent Medical Reference Panel undertake a quality review, each month, on a number of completed medical reports. Members of the Medical Reference Panel are jointly appointed by the Department and the Claimants' Solicitor Group. Finally, a clerical audit is completed on every medical report. These quality assurance and verification processes safeguard both the claimant and the Department but the claimant also has redress through a disputes procedure.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average settlement (a) to the claimant and (b) in solicitors' and medical fees was for coal health claims relating to deafness settled by his Department in the last year for which figures are available. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 11 July 2005]: Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claims are not handled under a specific scheme. There are two types of claim, one settled under the Iron Trade Tariff and the other through Common Law. The average settlement under the Iron Trade Tariff for claimants is approximately £1,500 with costs and disbursements ranging from £485 to £800 +VAT. Claims under Common Law have an average settlement of between £3,000 and £3,500. Costs paid are negotiated and can range from £2,000 to £4,000.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many requests were made to his Department to investigate coal health claims handlers through the Department's Corporate Governance Unit in (a) 2003 and (b) 2004. 
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will suspend payments of fees to the Union of Democratic Mineworkers and Vendside in respect of coal health claims; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish the environmental impact assessment that has been made on the gas pipeline serving the National Gas Transmission System Reinforcements. 
Malcolm Wicks: Under the Gas Transporter Pipe-line Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999 the environmental impact assessment for a proposed pipeline is made available to the public by the developer. A copy of it is also made available for public inspection at the premises of the relevant local planning authority.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with colleagues in the National Assembly for Wales on the structure of planning decisions relating to the pipelines serving the National Gas Transmission System Reinforcements. 
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the impact of the proposed National Gas Transmission System Reinforcements on the environment. 
Malcolm Wicks: The environmental impact of a proposed gas pipeline is something to be properly probed in the consideration of any application for consent under the Gas Transporter Pipe-line Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999.
Fuel cells are still mainly at the pre-commercial stage. Significant cost reductions and increased durability will be required in order for them to be competitive with existing technologies, particularly for transport applications. The Department supports industrial collaborative research and development of
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fuel cells under the DTI Technology Programme. On 14 June 2005 I announced additional funding of £15 million over four years to cover fuel cell and hydrogen demonstrations, part of a £40 million package which also included carbon abatement technologies.
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