Draft Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) Regulations 2008

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Mr. Harper: There is just one point that the Minister has not touched on. She has clarified the issue in relation to where the disease was contracted, but can she also clarify whether that also extends to non-British citizens?
Mrs. McGuire: Yes. I thought I had been clear about that. It is a matter of where the condition has been contracted, and whether a person contracted it in the UK. It is not about those who would be covered by other employer or employment schemes.
John Battle: Have I got this clear? This is not a case of what we sometimes abusively refer to as medical tourism, and if someone has the condition somewhere else and comes to Britain, I imagine they will not get compensation. I understand that if a person is contracted to a company in Britain and works in a factory or engineering shop or has, as has been the case in some instances, been contracted to work at traffic lights where lorries draw up and asbestos comes from the wheels and the braking systems, they can claim against the company even if they are a foreign national. Similarly, in relation to someone who works at traffic lights, they can go to the Highways Agency and say, “You caused it.” I assume that I am right in saying that if the cause is in Britain, they can claim under the scheme.
Mrs. McGuire: My right hon. Friend is exactly right.
I think the hon. Member for Forest of Dean asked about the incidence of mesothelioma in Great Britain and why it is higher than in other European countries. There is an international disparity in incidences of mesothelioma and we recognise that. The UK rate is among the highest in the world, which reflects the pattern of asbestos usage in the UK and the substantial imports of asbestos in the past. That is why we now have stringent controls on the use of asbestos. I hope that answers the hon. Gentleman’s question.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West asked whether the polluter should pay and gave a graphic description of incidences in his constituency. Yes, we expect to recover the full cost of the scheme from the compensation recovery from insurance and we continue to work with insurance companies to improve insurance tracing to ensure that we can get more money to victims. In response to the hon. Member for Forest of Dean, yes, we will top up payments if someone is found to be subsequently entitled to a higher payment under the 1979 Act.
I hope that I have covered most if not all the points made by hon. Members. If I have not, I will certainly write to hon. Friends and hon. Members. Although we have had a robust discussion about the regulations, all hon. Members recognise that this is a new way of dealing with compensation claims, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover mentioned. It is about recognising that people in these situations may not have a long life and that we want to get payments to them as quickly as possible. We can sort out the details afterwards. I know that all hon. Members recognise not only that it is groundbreaking in that sense, but that it is the right thing to do. The only regret I can express—and I assume that we can all express this—is that we have had to wait so long for the legislation to come into force.
Question put and agreed to.
That the Committee has considered the draft Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) Regulations 2008.
Committee rose at twenty minutes to Six o’clock.
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