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4.30 pm

The Minister and his predecessors deserve some credit for taking on the consultation that the previous Government set out. As I have said before in the Chamber, my hon. Friends who were here before me pushed for this for so many years under the last Government and they should have got further faster, but that was not for want of trying by Ministers.

Steve Rotheram: My hon. Friend is making a powerful point, but does he agree that premiums should not be increased, because premiums have already been paid to insurance companies who made huge profits and distributed them to shareholders? They have had the money and they should pay out, as that is what happens with an insurance scheme.

John Woodcock: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Insurance companies now have an opportunity to do the right thing and to be seen to be doing the right thing, and I hope they take it.

I said the Minister deserved some credit but I think he has blinked too early in this negotiation. We have all said we recognise the pressures he is under, but there are a lot of Members of this House who know a bit more about negotiations than I do and they will all tell him, just as I am about to do, that people do not tend to go into a negotiation saying, “Well, we’re going to offer this now, but, to be honest, there’s a bit further we could go so just push us a bit more and we’ll be prepared to give you a bit more.” They always say, “This is the last offer and we are not going to go further.”

Mike Penning: If that was what happened I would agree with the hon. Gentleman, but that is not what happened. The figure started at 70% and now we are at 75%. I have never blinked early in my life, and nor did Lord Freud.

John Woodcock: The Minister is absolutely right; it has gone up from 70% to 75%, but the case has been made powerfully and strongly today that he can go further, to 80% at least.

Mr McKenzie: Does my hon. Friend agree that the deal that has been struck is allowing the insurance companies to renege on their commitment to these victims, and, not only that, but perhaps we are seeing a precedent being set for industries who are yet to leave their legacy of industrial victims?

John Woodcock: My hon. Friend is right and that does not leave the insurance companies doing sufficient.

Of course time is a factor, and we do not live in an ideal world. Today we will probably not achieve giving these people everything that ought to be given to them,

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and God knows they have waited far too long already, but we should all thank the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) for her tenacity. She has brought her considerable expertise to bear on this. I am sure her former friends and colleagues in the insurance industry think of her as a poacher turned gamekeeper—

[Interruption.]

Perhaps it is the other way round in this instance. Her expertise and inside knowledge have enabled the way in which the insurance companies work to be exposed in the House today. Some of us will struggle to see the logic of the 3% cut-off. If we stretch this and have a longer period for making the pay-outs over the next decade, even by the parameters the insurance industry has set itself, the figure will still come in at 3%.

We have shown today that we can go further and I really hope that, even at this late stage, the Minister will listen to the arguments made in this House and improve what is on offer for the victims of this awful, horrible disease.

Mr Anderson: I will try to keep my voice going if I can. I appreciate the work the Minister has done but this debate saddens me. We have got a situation where employer liability was paid to these insurance companies. They have had their money and they have run with it. People have died, and that was not a surprise. We have known for a century that asbestos kills people, so the fact that people would need compensation was not a surprise. The whole argument about the cut-off date, and that we cannot just spring this on the insurance companies, is nonsense. Looking back over the last decade, at the Fairchild rules, the Barker rules and the Rothwell rules, we can see that those were all cases in which the industry tried to get out of its responsibilities.

I raised this point with the Prime Minister on 18 December. I asked him to intervene to try to resolve the issue and he said:

“I will obviously look at what he has to say”.—[Official Report, 18 December 2013; Vol. 572, c. 732.]

I understand the time constraints that he has been under since then, but will the Minister tell us whether the Prime Minister has had a chance to look at the Bill? Where has the Prime Minister been to take that look? Has he been to the TUC? The trade unions have supported people through this morass for decades. Has he been to the asbestos victim support groups, including those who have been here today, who have real-life experience of these matters? Has he been to the employment lawyers who have sat with the people while they have died, and with their families?

Mike Penning: As a trade unionist myself, I would have expected the TUC to contact me for a discussion, but it has not done so. Other groups, including victim support groups have. This is an interesting situation. I would have been more than happy to speak to the TUC, but it did not knock on my door.

Mr Anderson: I thank the Minister for his intervention, but I am talking about what the Prime Minister has done since he made a promise to the House from the Dispatch Box to look into the situation, knowing that the Bill was coming back to the House today.

Perhaps the Prime Minister has looked at what the employment lawyers have been dealing with over the years. Or perhaps he has done the other thing, and

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spoken to the people who have set the parameters for this debate: the people in the insurance companies. After all, he knows them all. They have bankrolled his party for decades, and they have bankrolled his constituency and those of hundreds of Conservative Members across the country. If a trade union had exerted that much influence, we on this side of the House would have been nailed to the wall. The Prime Minister knows the insurance industry well enough to have appointed the Association of British Insurers to lead the consultation. My hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) talked about gamekeepers and poachers a moment ago. If this is not the most glaring example of that, I do not know what is.

At the end of the day, however, the Prime Minister could have gone somewhere much closer to look into this matter. If he had gone to his constituency office, he would have found a document in his in-tray that was sent to every one of us as constituency MPs. It is from the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK, and it is entitled “The Mesothelioma Bill [HL]—the Victims’ View”. I shall read out a few examples from across the country.

A constituent from Stockton North asks:

“After being robbed of my husband and father of two sons why am I now being robbed of compensation for my children?”

A constituent from Birmingham, Selly Oak states:

“I hope you never have to watch a loved one on oxygen fighting to get his breath, carrying it around to be able to live, or should I say exist. You have no idea what mesothelioma sufferers go through.”

A lady from Halesowen says:

“I watched my husband suffer for 3 years and then his horrific end to this illness. I’m sure that if the Ministers in Parliament witnessed this they would change the Bill without any hesitation”.

A lady from Eltham states:

“My husband was murdered. His name was Alan. My husband died aged 58 because he went to work every day in places riddled with asbestos.”

Mrs Barker from Staffordshire Moorlands says”:

“If you haven’t seen a man die of mesothelioma like I saw my husband in hospital then maybe you ought to go to a hospital. To see him go from a healthy active man to nothing, skin and bone, or anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma fall to pieces…is heart-wrenching.”

Mrs Bell from Telford states:

“My husband died within 2 months of diagnosis of mesothelioma. He was a strong, healthy man brought down to a weak, skeletal figure in that short time. Watching someone you love reduced to such a state is soul destroying.”

Mrs Barclay from Cannock Chase says:

“Come and spend time watching someone you love struggle to walk because of pain and lack of oxygen. My husband was 6 ft 2 in tall and now he is bent double struggling to walk.”

But the Prime Minister need not even have gone there; he could have gone to visit Mr Larrie Lewington, who lives in Witney and who said:

“I’m disgusted because 90% of the work I did was for people like the Ministry of Defence, police and hospitals. I now have this death sentence hanging over me for helping the government and they are trying to reduce the amount of money that I deserve. It’s an absolute insult. I could have had another 20 years left, everything else is perfectly healthy except this horrible disease. No amount of money will ever compensate what this has done to me and my family but it will help, and give me peace of mind that I can live without worry for the rest of my time.”

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That is the real story here. It is not about whether the insurance companies can afford this or not; it is about the moral duty of the people in this House to do the right thing and not be told, “We might have to put the insurance bill up and some businesses will be wobbling.” We do things in this House every day of the week that put businesses, people, trade unions and every other organisation in the country under pressure, yet somehow we are saying that because we have this deal we should not put these people under pressure. There is absolutely no excuse for what is going on here today. The least that should be done is that we should start the scheme from 2010, because that is the last point when insurers can say, “We did not realise we were going to have to face up to this.” They should be made to face up to it. They have had their money and they ran with it. They should be caught, brought back to book and made to pay the proper compensation—anything below 100% is a disgrace.

The other clear disgrace—I am glad that the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, the hon. Member for Thornbury and Yate (Steve Webb) is in his place—is the concept that somehow the Government can claw back 100% of benefits from people and yet give only 70% compensation. Where on earth has that come from? Where is the morality in that? Has anybody made the case to say that that is fair? It is obviously wrong. Somebody who goes to the courts because the employer is identifiable will get, on average, £154,000, whereas under this scheme the most somebody will get, even though they have to go through all the same hoops, except that they do not have an identified employer or insurance company, is £115,000. So they are already £39,000 worse off. Then 100% of the benefit they had is going to be clawed back because they are lying on their death bed—it stinks! We have to put this right. If it is not put right today, we need to continue on it because this is not the end of the matter. If it is not put right in this Parliament, I hope that when Labour comes to power in the next one we will resolve it.

Hywel Williams: It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson) and all the other hon. Members who have spoken most eloquently about this terrible disease in support of the proposal made by the right hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East (Mr Brown), which my party and I support. The hon. Member for High Peak (Andrew Bingham) said that it seemed unlikely that he would be so concerned about mesothelioma, given that he represents a rural area, and the same applies to me; what does mesothelioma mean to us in rural Arfon?

In the early 1960s, a Ferodo factory was established just outside my home town of Caernarfon. The slate industry was dying at the time, and many slate workers were affected with the dust disease that led to the 1979 Act to which I referred earlier in an intervention. At the time, people believed in economic planning and the plan was to establish a large factory in the constituency to mop up the unemployment arising subsequent to the closure of the slate industry. Ironically, the factory was that of the Ferodo firm, which then used asbestos in the production of brake linings, leading to cases of mesothelioma in my constituency.

I will be brief because the arguments have been very well made this afternoon by a variety of hon. Members on both sides of the House, and I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch)

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for her interesting and well-informed speech. As has been said, the scheme is being set up for individuals who have not only been diagnosed with a terminal illness, but who have been suffering the misfortune of being unable to trace their employer’s insurers. It is plainly unjust that these claimants should automatically lose a significant percentage of the compensation that is rightly theirs through no fault of their own. The industry has argued that mesothelioma claimants should be encouraged to look at all other avenues before making a claim under the scheme. At a meeting I had some months ago with insurers, that point was made most strongly.

Mike Penning: It is the Government who are saying that a victim must do everything they possibly can to ensure they get a claim against an insurance company before they approach the scheme, because the scheme is a fund of last resort.

4.45 pm

Hywel Williams: I stand corrected. However, that argument was made to me by representatives of the insurance industry when I met them on this issue. I understand the argument that it would spur people on to take any action they can and that the fund should be a matter of last resort, but it seems that we are in danger of giving the impression that the Government are heedless of the bitter realities and the ferocity of this disease. I am sure that the Minister does not see it that way, but that is the impression that might be given to sufferers in the short time that is available from diagnosis to the outcome. There are also cruel pressures on their families. As we have already heard, sufferers can die very shortly after being diagnosed, which leaves their families with little time to seek more positive avenues of compensation. There is the matter of basic humanity here. Should we expect people to use their precious final months of life to pursue these legal means of tracing their previous employers’ insurers when the fault is not of their making?

Briefly, let me repeat a point that I made in an earlier intervention. I referred to the slate industry and the fact that there is compensation for slate workers who are unable to trace the insurers of their former employers, and the compensation is paid at 100%. That is in respect of slate workers and workers in other industries, such as the jute industry in Dundee and the china clay industry in Cornwall.

I have heard the arguments and that there have been negotiations and that a figure has been arrived at, and I can see the practical politics of that. I will end by saying that whatever the technical aspects of the case, there is a moral issue here. I support amendment 4, tabled by the right hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East, but if that fails, I will back the other relevant amendment.

Kate Green: I rise to speak to amendment 9 in my name and to support all the other amendments in this group. Amendment 9 seeks to enshrine in the Bill the 3% of gross written premium, which is the levy to be imposed on insurance companies to fund the mesothelioma payment scheme.

What I want from this amendment is a cast-iron guarantee that that levy will remain in place as long as the scheme continues. I am sure that the Minister feels

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that he has already given me that guarantee on at least one occasion—if not on many occasions. For example, he gave it in Committee on 10 December.

Mike Penning: May I reiterate the guarantee that I gave the hon. Lady in Committee and again today that it will stay at 3%?

Kate Green: I am grateful for that further assurance. On 10 December, the Minister said that 3% “is not going anywhere”. On 12 December, he said:

“Three per cent. is 3% and we have no intention of moving away from it.”––[Official Report, Mesothelioma (Lords) Public Bill Committee, 12 December 2013; c. 117.]

He has given us a further assurance this afternoon. He was a wee bit more equivocal, if he will forgive me for saying so, in his letter to Committee members on 17 December, where he said:

“We will look to ensure that the rate of the levy continues to be 3% of GWP...or equivalent to 100% of average civil damages.”

I am particularly concerned about this, because the Government’s impact assessment says that the levy will raise £371 million over 10 years, but I have subsequently learned from the economist at the Department for Work and Pensions that its modelling to arrive at that figure is based not on 3% “not going anywhere” but on how much it costs to meet pay-outs at 75% of average civil damages and the associated costs. In fact, the figure of £367 million in the impact assessment, which is what the Government have been relying on as the cost of the scheme that they say is affordable to the industry, means that the industry will face a levy of just 2.46% over 10 years. I know that the Minister has assured us that there will be a review after four years of the operation of the scheme of the amount the levy has raised and what can be done to increase the rate of payments beyond 75%. Indeed, the Minister has said to me that there might be other things that can be done, too.

If the industry can afford 3% today, it can afford 3% over the lifetime of the scheme. If the rate were maintained at 3% over the first 10 years of the scheme, it would raise £452 million rather than £371 million. That would be a further £81 million for sufferers that the industry is telling us it can afford. Indeed, the industry thinks that the scheme will run for 30 or 40 years and talks about there being a cost of £30 million to £35 million a year, or £1.2 billion to £1.4 billion over the whole period of the scheme. The cost of 100% payouts going back to 1968 will be £1.1 billion, so 3% would allow us a much earlier start date and to increase the rate while leaving some money over for research or to cover other diseases.

It seems to me that there is plenty of scope to enshrine the level of 3% in legislation. The industry can afford to pay it and we have no reason to believe that it cannot or will not be able to afford it in the future. The industry says that that is an acceptable levy that would put more money into the scheme, if not immediately then in subsequent years. The industry will face the levy during the first four years of the scheme, so we are not asking for any extra money during those years. I cannot understand why that levy cannot be enshrined in the Bill today.

I strongly support amendment 5 on the start date, proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East (Mr Brown), for exactly the reason given, for example, by my hon. Friend the Member

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for Wansbeck (Ian Lavery)—the guilty knowledge which backdates, even on the most modest reading, to at least February 2010 when the Labour Government launched the most recent consultation. I would argue that since that date the industry has been on notice that there will be a scheme, and one for which it will have to pay.

The Minister says that one option in the consultation was to do nothing, and that might be true. Consultation documents always contain a do nothing option, but that rarely suggests that nothing will transpire. I do not think that the Government of the day, this Government or insurers have thought that doing nothing was the option on the table. Labour’s consultation document specifically said that Ministers were

“persuaded that an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau…should form part of the package”

creating a compensator of last resort. The industry has been planning for a scheme based on market share of employers’ liability insurance, either historic or current. In its response to the Labour consultation, the industry concentrated on only two costed models and made it quite clear that that was the basis on which it expected the scheme to proceed.

It has been noted, although I think some of my colleagues were rather sceptical about the figure, that backdating to 2010 could increase costs by £80 million over 10 years. I think that figure is acceptable and understand why the Government have suggested it. We will see an early spike in claims during the first few years of the scheme and in later years, of course, we will expect the number of claims to reduce. I accept that backdating the scheme to February 2010 would breach the 3% levy by taking it to 3.56% over the first four years of the scheme, although it would be comfortably within 3% over the first 10 years. However, I strongly contend that for a multibillion-pound industry that is receiving, as colleagues have pointed out, a £17 million gift and a £30 million loan from the Government, it could easily swallow that cash-flow issue, especially given that, as has been pointed out repeatedly this afternoon, it has been taking income in premiums for such policies over years—in fact, over decades. The money is already in its hands.

Let me remind right hon. and hon. Members that it is not possible to access the scheme unless the technical committee that will manage it takes a view that an employers’ liability insurance policy was in place. It is not possible to access the scheme on the basis that there was no policy; there must be prima facie evidence that there was a policy and that premiums were therefore collected.

I understand and strongly sympathise with the points made by colleagues about the moral case for 100% of average civil damages to be the basis on which the scheme should operate. In fact, I believe that that is the Minister’s, and everybody’s, preferred moral position in relation to the victims of this horrific disease. I was very pleased to hear him put on the record—I think it is the first time he has had the chance to do so—that it was not his view that a figure below 100% was necessary to create some sort of incentive to sufferers to find an insurer rather than simply come to the scheme. I think we have all found quite offensive the suggestion that sufferers are in some way shopping around for the best deal. I am grateful to him for putting on the record that the Government do not believe that that would be the case.

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I was struck by the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Andy McDonald)—sadly, he is not in the Chamber at the moment—that because of well-established principles of contributory negligence, in paying out less than 100% to victims we albeit inadvertently send a message to them that it may be perceived that to some degree the suffering that they are facing is their own fault. That is an extremely unfortunate and unjustified message to send to victims who have contracted a disease simply from going out to work to earn a living and support their families. I hope we can all accept that whatever the constraints imposed by the deal that the Minister has been able to negotiate, the moral case for mesothelioma sufferers coming to this scheme is that they should be compensated in full.

The proposal by the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) is supported right across the House. We recognise that an 80% payout is a very reasonable compromise even within the terms of the scheme that the Minister has negotiated. There would be more money in the scheme if the Government and the industry stopped messing around with the likely legal fees that claimants would be facing. The fees were £7,000 and then went down to £2,000, which somehow magically allowed us to get the pay-outs up to 75%, and now they have gone back up to £7,000 again. The hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips) is not able to join us in today’s debate, but in Committee he made some very telling points about lawyers’ fees. He is a well-paid lawyer, so I am sure he will forgive me for saying that he ought to know —[Interruption.] The fees were considerably more modest than his fees, as I think we all heard. He pointed out that any assumption of the basis on which legal fees were calculated within the scheme would create the danger of that becoming the tariff for its legal fees. The Minister undertook to have further discussions to see whether it would be possible to bear down on the level of legal fees.

I have since been advised by an asbestos victims support group that it has been asked to help to get mesothelioma victims to put pressure on their lawyers to keep the fees low. That is unacceptable. At a time when they are coping with an appalling illness and worrying about the future for their families, as they know they may not even survive to receive the compensation that they are due, the last thing they need is to get into an argument with their lawyers about fees. I really hope that the Minister is able to do much more than simply pass the problem back to victims. Perhaps he will respond to that point in his comments.

Another issue that we discussed in Committee and have not yet got to the bottom of is that a whole range of other fees are covered by the levy, as we have debated during the passage of the Bill: the insurance industry’s legal fees of £24.2 million, as distinct from the victims’ legal fees; the scheme administration costs of £4.4 million; and the set-up costs of £1.4 million. In Committee, the Minister assured me that the industry’s legal fees would be spent to the benefit of claimants and said he would get back to me if he was wrong about that. As he has not done so, I assume that those fees will be spent for the benefit of claimants. However, since he told me that on 12 December, I have been racking my brains as to how they would be spent for the benefit of claimants, and I have not been able to think of anything. I therefore hope that he will now be able to give me chapter and verse on exactly how those fees are to be deployed.

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I also hope the Minister will be able to confirm that the sum set aside for setting up and administering the scheme will contain no profit element. This is of particular concern, because we know that the insurance industry itself is likely to bid to run the scheme. The Minister assured us in Committee that the process of appointing the body to run the scheme would be a competitive one. He said it would be based on value for money and commercial criteria, which is welcome, but those criteria would not necessarily preclude the administrator from making a profit: they might simply have to come up with the best price.

I am still in some about doubt about the position on arbitration costs and whether they are also being taken out of the levy. The Minister has not yet responded on that.

All those factors could serve to deplete funds that could otherwise be deployed for more generous pay-outs or to an earlier start date. It really is not good enough that we are still in the dark at this very late stage as to how much of the levy is earmarked for expenditure other than direct payments to victims.

5 pm

I welcome the debate we have had this afternoon and the attempts made by Members throughout the House to extend the generosity of the scheme to victims. I very much hope that the Minister will be able to give us some positive reassurances as to how that can be achieved, because I know he shares with all colleagues the wish for the scheme to be as generous as possible. It is strongly our view that there is every reason to believe—we have heard the evidence this afternoon—that the scheme can afford to be more generous than it is at present.

Mike Penning: I again thank colleagues from all parties for the tone of the debate and the measured way in which it has been conducted. I thank in particular the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), for her comments. I hope she will agree that we have been as helpful as possible to her, her team and other colleagues, not only through letters but through access to our team managers. I am slightly concerned about the technical questions she asked at the end of her speech, because I had hoped that they had been addressed. If I am not able to address them all now, I will make sure that my team contacts her to do so in the near future.

We have heard some excellent contributions. As has been said several times, morally I am probably in agreement with nearly everything that has been said. These people are not at fault. They mostly went to work in good faith and they have contracted an atrocious, abhorrent disease that is fatal. They and their loved ones need this fund’s support. There are no arguments whatsoever about that. Many of us are disappointed that we are still discussing this issue all these years after this terrible disease, its cause and its effects—it is fatal—were known about.

At the outset I thank the right hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East (Mr Brown) for his very kind comments. I praise the work he did when he was a Minister trying to introduce a similar Bill. I also praise not only the support groups, but the trade unions, because without their pressure over the years we probably would not be in this position.

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Having said that my moral position is absolutely as one with that of colleagues, I have to be a pragmatist. The Bill has come from the Lords and I am the Minister with responsibility for taking it through the House.

The hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) mentioned the figure of £17 million, but that is to get the fund going and to keep us below 3%. It is not being given to the insurance companies to do whatever they want with it. It is to get the fund running for four years. On the issue of 3%, the right hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East was spot on to say that, although he was thinking of a 10-year period, I was thinking of four years, and that after that four-year period there will be a review.

I am restricted by the maths and our agreements. Could the insurers afford this? I have no doubt whatsoever that they could, but that is not the deal that has been struck. As has been said, the House could decide to set the limit at 80%, but I want this Bill to receive Royal Assent and for compensation to be paid in July. That is not happening at the moment and it has not happened for years. Could it be better? Yes, it could. I said as much on Second Reading and I have said so extensively elsewhere.

Grahame M. Morris: I agree with much of what the Minister has said. Will he respond to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) about the 3% levy? If the advice is correct that the money will not be spent in the first years of the scheme, perhaps it could be redirected into medical research on the causes of mesothelioma.

Mike Penning: What I have said in Committee and today is that there will be a review after four years. I have committed to the 3% figure beyond the four years, as is absolutely right. I will come back to the £80 million that has been touched on in a second. Actuaries have looked at this very carefully and the Health and Safety Executive, for which I am also responsible, has looked at the costings. We will consider the review at the end of the four years, but there is no way in which the figure will drop below 3%. As far as I am concerned, that will flow through until we get 100% compensation.

It is very important for hon. Members to understand that we are talking about 75% of the average, which means that some people will be worse off—I fully admit that—but that some people will get more than they would have done if they had been able to trace their insurer or employer and go through the scheme. That is an interesting parallel. The percentage is an average, and in working with an average some will be on one side of the line and some will be on the other side of the line. I know that it is really difficult for those on the wrong side of the line in theory, but there will be people on the other side of it.

Where should the arbitrary line be? Of course I could say, as I did in Committee, that the consultation issued by the Government before the last election included a proposal to do nothing. I accept that there is a proposal to do nothing in most consultations, but it was there. I do not, however, think that that is the biggest issue; the biggest issue is how we stay within the 3% over the period and within our financial obligations. That is the position that I am in.

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I cannot, obviously, support the 100% figure. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) for her work on the cross-party group, including before she entered the House, but, sadly, I cannot accept 80%. We have discussed that, and I think that she understands why. I need to make sure that we stay within the realms of what we have agreed and get the Bill through the House and on to the statute book.

Mr Anderson: I regret to hear what the Minister is saying. One thing he could do is to change the clawback from 100% to 75%, which would at least give people a little more money.

Mike Penning: Some things are out of my hands, and such is the legal situation in relation to clawback. I cannot change that through the Bill. It just happens: if someone gets compensation, there is clawback on it at 100% because taxpayers’ money is used to pay the compensation.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): From what the Minister is saying and the feeling of the House, it may well be that the Bill is just a work in progress. Are we collectively agreed—the Minister, in particular—that we may well have to revisit the Bill properly after, say, three years and try again to give decent compensation to everyone?

Mike Penning: That is exactly what we are doing because there is a four-year review. It was announced in the other place, and I talked about it on Second Reading and in Committee. We are committed to the four-year review, which I know we will work on.

All the amendments would affect the speed at which the Bill goes through, because if we amend it today, it has to go back to the other House and there will be ping-pong. That would delay the compensation, which should be remembered by hon. Members who really want their constituents to get compensation. Along with the restraints on me within the agreement, that is why I will oppose the amendments. I hope that hon. Members will not press their amendments, so that we can make progress and get on to the next group.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 232, Noes 303.

Division No. 169]

[

5.9 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Barron, rh Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, rh Yvette

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Doyle, Gemma

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Hunt, Tristram

Jackson, Glenda

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Susan Elan

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McCrea, Dr William

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Paisley, Ian

Pearce, Teresa

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Tom Blenkinsop

and

Julie Hilling

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Brady, Mr Graham

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Davey, rh Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fallon, rh Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hancock, Matthew

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thornton, Mike

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Karen Bradley

and

Gavin Barwell

Question accordingly negatived.

7 Jan 2014 : Column 244

7 Jan 2014 : Column 245

7 Jan 2014 : Column 246

7 Jan 2014 : Column 247

Clause 4

Payments

Amendment proposed: 1, page 3, line 5 , at end insert ‘but shall not be less than 80 per cent of the average civil compensation recovered by mesothelioma claimants.’.—(Tracey Crouch.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 247, Noes 286.

Division No. 170]

[

5.24 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Barclay, Stephen

Barron, rh Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Burns, Conor

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, rh Yvette

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Crouch, Tracey

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Doyle, Gemma

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gale, Sir Roger

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Hunt, Tristram

Jackson, Glenda

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Susan Elan

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McCrea, Dr William

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Paisley, Ian

Pearce, Teresa

Percy, Andrew

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whittaker, Craig

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Tom Blenkinsop

and

Julie Hilling

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barker, rh Gregory

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Davey, rh Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fallon, rh Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hancock, Matthew

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Hendry, Charles

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Perry, Claire

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thornton, Mike

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Karen Bradley

and

Gavin Barwell

Question accordingly negatived.

7 Jan 2014 : Column 248

7 Jan 2014 : Column 249

7 Jan 2014 : Column 250

7 Jan 2014 : Column 251

Clause 5

Applications and procedure

Kate Green: I beg to move amendment 10, page 3, line 32, at end add—

‘(3) Clause 18(2)(a) of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 is amended as follows—

After sub-paragraph (ii) there is inserted—

(a)

(i) is made to representatives of persons preparing an application to the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme or being assisted by that scheme to bring a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, and/or the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934.”.’.

I apologise to the House for what will prove to be a rather technical and nerdy amendment. To reassure the Minister and the House before we start—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. Will Members please leave the Chamber quietly so that we can complete the business before the knife at 6 o’clock?

7 Jan 2014 : Column 252

Kate Green: I reassure the Minister and the House that it is not my intention to press the amendment to a vote. I hope that he will be able to offer me at least some indication of the way forward as a result of the concerns I am about to raise.

The amendment was discussed in Committee on 12 December and relates to the fact that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has now decided that a High Court order will be needed in order for it to release the employment records of deceased customers and protect employers’ confidentiality. Clearly mesothelioma sufferers coming to the diffuse mesothelioma payments scheme will need to have employment records to demonstrate their prima facie case that an employers’ liability policy of insurance existed.

Under the Data Protection Act, disclosure about employers to customers while still living is permitted because that would be part of their personal information. But this cannot apply once the customer is deceased. It might then be possible to look to the Commissioner of Revenue and Customs Act 2005 to enable access to employment records but this does not appear to offer circumstances in which HMRC is prepared to release the records without a High Court order, as HMRC confirmed in a letter to the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers on 2 December last year.

Clearly this is a worry in relation to the diffuse mesothelioma payments scheme because it will be very burdensome for families to get such a court order—burdensome and potentially costly. We must recognise that the need to do so will be quite frequent because victims die so quickly after diagnosis. The Data Protection Act exemption that is available to customers while still living will in many cases not be available.

When we discussed the matter in Committee before Christmas, I asked the Minister what consideration had been given to the impact of the changed interpretation on mesothelioma victims. I asked what consultation had been carried out and how the change in interpretation could be reconciled with the Ministry of Justice’s aim to speed up the process of claims. I emphasise of course that this is an issue not just for those coming through the diffuse mesothelioma payments scheme, but for anyone pursuing civil claims in relation to the scheme.

Since our debate in Committee I have learned that the concerns that I raised are shared more widely. Coroners, in particular, are becoming very anxious. I am sure that the Minister will be aware that in the Liverpool coroners court the other day, the coroner required HMRC to produce the employment records of a Mr Roger Carmichael. HMRC, relying on its new interpretation of the law, declined to provide those records and to appear before the coroner. I understand that the ruling is now being challenged in a judicial review. Clearly, with the matter proceeding through the courts, both the Minister and I are going to have to be careful in what we say about that case—indeed, I do not intend to say anything about it.

What is clear, however, is that the situation is just a mess—a mess that will bear adversely on mesothelioma sufferers and one that we need to sort out. It is potentially a costly mess for the Government if, for example, coroners needed to be funded to make applications to the High Court for the release of employment records. It is potentially a mess because it could be a breach of the Government’s obligations under the European convention on human rights, particularly in respect of people’s ability

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to exercise their article 2 rights, which would apply to mesothelioma claims. It is a confused mess when it comes to coroners’ matters as to whether the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 or the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 prevails on disclosure—a mess that I imagine would be a subject of judicial review. In any event, if we are speedily to introduce the diffuse mesothelioma payment scheme, it is a mess that we—and, I am sure, the Minister—will want to see speedily sorted out.

This mess has arisen not because the law has changed, but because HMRC’s interpretation of the law has recently changed. Of course we understand and I accept that if HMRC receives legal advice saying that it should act differently from how it has worked previously, it cannot casually disregard it, but there is clearly an urgent need to clarify the exact position. The judicial review to which I referred might not adequately clarify the position for mesothelioma sufferers and their dependants coming into this scheme because, as I say, it might make a ruling only on mesothelioma matters before the coroner—not necessarily or likely to be applicable to accessing this scheme.

I know that the Minister recognised this concern when I raised it in Committee and he said that he was anxious to see it resolved, but reluctant to do it in this Bill because of his wariness around ping-pong. While I am, frankly, doubtful whether this would be a major stumbling-block if we had to ping this back to their lordships, who I think would be pretty happy to see an amendment put through simply and straightforwardly to address the particular problem, I understand that the Minister, in conjunction with his colleagues in other Departments, is now looking for another legislative vehicle.

That is certainly welcome, but I have to ask the Minister whether he is going to find that legislative vehicle quickly enough for it to be available before the diffuse mesothelioma payment scheme comes into effect? He has repeatedly stressed that this scheme needs to be up and running by the summer of 2014, which does not leave a lot of time to find a suitable legislative vehicle to sort out the problem and ensure that it is dealt with robustly so that the scheme can properly be the beneficiary of such sorting out. I am thus extremely anxious that the Minister might find himself in some difficulty if his colleagues cannot oblige him with a handy, urgent and useful Bill.

The Minister might like to think about accepting this amendment. It is intended to help what he says he wants to happen, which is to get the scheme up and running, operational and effective as quickly as possible. It is not a contentious amendment; it is not one about which there is going to be any dispute either here or in the other place in respect of what it is designed to achieve. The amendment is narrowly drafted to relate specifically to those seeking employment records in relation to accessing the scheme that this Bill covers. If the Minister is unable to accept my amendment, I hope he will be able to assure me at least that the matter will be sorted out in good time before the scheme comes into operation this summer. I hope he will explain how he thinks that will happen. We do not want warm words alone; we need specifics. Time to sort this out is becoming urgent.

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Mike Penning: I thank the shadow Minister for tabling the amendment and for setting out her position early when she said that she would not press the amendment to a vote. She is quite right, and I reiterate the point I made in Committee: I do not think this is the right Bill for addressing that important issue. I agree that the change in HMRC’s interpretation of the existing law—as opposed to a change in the law itself—is a massive issue, but fortunately there is time for us to deal with it between now and July. I have been meeting Justice Ministers to discuss the matter. As I am sure the House will understand, the Ministry of Justice does not want the courts to be clogged up with people asking for court orders in order to obtain their employment records, and I am sure that that was not the intention when the legislation was enacted.

5.45 pm

Our priority—apart from publishing the regulations, which we hope to do tomorrow—is to address this matter. I will meet a Justice Minister, and we will find a vehicle to simplify the way in which the employment records are obtained for those who are making claims on the mesothelioma fund, so that we can do exactly what it says on the tin. What we have wanted to do all along is secure a speedy resolution for those who need access to the fund because they have no other recourse, and it is imperative for the House and Ministers to ensure that that happens. I hope the hon. Lady accepts that we are working very hard, and are also asking for legal opinions on whether we can take some action between now and the passing of the Bill.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): Could the matter eventually be dealt with by means of delegated legislation?

Mike Penning: I understand that that is possible. It could also be dealt with through a deregulation Bill. In any event, we will find the necessary vehicle. As I have said, the Ministry of Justice does not want the courts to be clogged up with requests for court orders, and the matter will be resolved.

Kate Green: I am grateful to the Minister, I am also grateful to the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) for his helpful intervention about the possibility of secondary legislation. Perhaps the Minister could discuss with his colleagues and with the Government’s legal advisers whether the regulations under the Bill—which I expect to complete its passage later this evening—could be used as a vehicle for the change. Although more substantial Bills such as the Deregulation Bill may make some progress between now and July, we have not observed legislation proceeding all that speedily under this Government, particularly given the notorious requirement for a legislative “pause” while Ministers go off and rethink from time to time. Obviously, if the Minister has to use colleagues’ primary legislation to deliver his intent, he will be careful to select a Bill that would pose no such risk.

Mike Penning: Just to have a little bit of fun with the hon. Lady, let me point out that, having first been accused of trying to rush the Bill through, I am now being criticised for the fact that the Government are slowing down legislation. One cannot win, can one?

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Kate Green: It must be tough being the Minister. I am sure that all our sympathies go out to the hon. Gentleman.

As I have said, I do not intend to press the amendment to a vote. The judicial review may give us some indication of the interpretation of the current legislation, which would be helpful, and I think that we should wait for that. I know that the Minister fully appreciates the urgency with which my amendment seeks to drive the process, and I hope that I can work with him to find and expedite the most suitable vehicle. If that turns out to be regulations under the Bill, we will stand ready to help him to ensure that they are passed.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Third Reading

5.48 pm

Mike Penning: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

It is an honour and a privilege to be the Minister who has taken the Bill through the House so speedily, with the help of Her Majesty’s Opposition and many other Members. Let me explain why the Bill is necessary. It will provide a fund of last resort for those who suffer from mesothelioma as a result of asbestos poisoning, and for their loved ones. As was pointed out earlier by the right hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East (Mr Brown), it has been on Ministers’ desks for an awfully long time. It is not perfect—I accept that it is not perfect—but it will, I hope, do what it says on the tin and get compensation to those who so greatly need it.

I want to pay tribute to those who have helped get this Bill where it is, in particular the civil servants in the Box this evening—my Bill manager, Lee Eplett, Rose Willis, Fiona Walshe and Jenny Vass—the Bill Committee joint-Chairs, the right hon. Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) and my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies), and the Government Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry), for their assistance in expediting the Bill’s passage. We had three days—six sessions—for the Bill Committee if we needed them. I think everybody who served on the Committee will accept that we discussed it at length yet we still had time to spare. That is exactly what should happen with a Bill; no one should come out and say, “We haven’t discussed it at length.” We will be finishing slightly ahead of schedule this evening as well. I hope the tone with which the Bill has been addressed during its progress through the House, with the assistance of Her Majesty’s Opposition, will be continued, and I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) for the way in which she has worked with me and my officials so that, should the Bill get its Third Reading, we can send it off to Her Majesty for Royal Assent, get the regulations down, and get compensation paid to those who so desperately need it, hopefully by July. I commend the Bill to the House.

5.51 pm

Kate Green: The Opposition welcome this opportunity to put a scheme into law that will provide a measure of payment to victims of what we are all agreed is a most

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horrific and terrible disease. I pay tribute to Ministers in this Government and past Governments who have worked over many years to bring us to the point we reach today, and also to Members of all parties who have been so determined to fight for the best possible deal for victims of this terrible disease. May I also place on record my thanks to the campaigners who have been actively and determinedly lobbying for many years for justice for victims, including trade union campaigners and especially the victim support groups around the country who I know have been in contact with many of us about the very complex and technical details of this Bill? I also want to echo the Minister’s thanks to his officials, who have been extremely helpful, in this Chamber and the other place, and to both Opposition and Government spokespeople, in ensuring that we all have a full understanding of the often complex and technical analysis of the likely consequences of different scenarios, which we sought to test as we considered the Bill.

The Minister said a few moments ago that the Bill is not perfect and we concur. We are pleased to have made the progress we have, but we regret that there have been some missed opportunities which many of us feel did not need to be missed. There was scope to have gone at least a little further than we have managed tonight. The Bill could be so much better than it is and, in the House of Lords, in Committee, on Second Reading and again this afternoon and this evening, Members on both sides of the House have highlighted its deficiencies and have suggested very constructive, practical—and affordable, where cost implications have been involved—ways to remedy them. It is disappointing that the Minister has felt under such pressure from the deal that has been done with the industry that he has been unable to accept any of the amendments, which I think have been brought forward in a very constructive manner. I think the Minister himself said that that has been the spirit in which we have sought to make the changes we have advanced.

However, we welcome the promise that the regulations that we will shortly be studying will provide for a review of the operation and effects of the scheme in four years’ time. We are determined to see that provision appearing in the regulations, and Members across the House will be equally anxious in four years’ time to hold Ministers to a full, meaningful and effective review that genuinely addresses the operation and consequences of the scheme and the potential for its expansion and extension.

It is a matter of concern that we are passing legislation today that we already think will need improvement in four years’ time. I hold the rather old-fashioned view that we ought to try to get legislation right first time, and it is a shame that we already know that Parliament will want to come back to certain areas of this Bill after four years. Mention has been made repeatedly during the passage of the Bill of the areas involved. They include: eligibility; access to the scheme; the cost of running and administering the scheme; the processes surrounding the scheme; the funding of research into the treatment and cure for mesothelioma; and, of course, the generosity of the scheme. There is a clear need for us to make progress in the development of each of those areas, and I believe that the Bill should have been used to ensure that progress.

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On the question of generosity, it is widely agreed that there is no moral case whatever for sufferers to receive a pay-out of less than 100%. Even if we accept that there is a constraint on 100% pay-outs that is dictated by affordability—the industry has suggested that that affordability is restricted to an amount set at 3% of gross written premium—I suggest that that figure is laughably small in the context of a multibillion pound industry that has been collecting premiums and avoiding pay-outs for decades. There should have been some scope for pushing the industry for more.

Regrettably, the amendments to introduce an earlier start date, to increase the level of pay-outs and, crucially, to protect the 3% levy were all rejected by the House. The Minister was reluctant to accept them, and the House did not vote for them. Those amendments would have meant: more money for victims; more victims benefiting; the possibility of more asbestos-related diseases being covered; more funding for research; and the inclusion of the self-employed and those who are currently forced to access less generous schemes.

On research, the Government’s response, as articulated by Lord Howe in the House of Lords, has been welcome as far as it goes. We very much hope that it will bear fruit in bringing forward more, better-funded and more fully developed research proposals. However, we really cannot overlook the moral responsibility of everyone involved in the sorry history of asbestos exposure to invest now in the best quality research that we can possibly promote to tackle this horrible disease. It was pointed out earlier that our obligation is not just to sufferers who are experiencing and dying of the disease now, and not just to sufferers in the UK. Developing economies mean that exposure rates around the world will rise for many years to come. Good research programmes and proposals exist, and more will come forward. Ministers have given a welcome indication of what they intend to do to galvanise and support such proposals, but we will want to keep a close watch on the practical consequences and effects of the guarantees that have been given. Unless they turn into properly funded, meaningful research programmes, I fear that we will have heard little more than warm words.

We very much look forward to seeing the draft regulations, which the Minister has indicated will be available tomorrow. I hope that will give us the opportunity to see some of the details of how the scheme will be run, which remain to be teased out, even after our debates. We particularly wish to scrutinise the detailed operation of the scheme, because we know that the insurance industry hopes to create a vehicle that can bid to administer the scheme. Understandably, there is a certain amount of suspicion among victims’ groups about the industry, which has so wronged them over so many decades, now becoming the vehicle responsible for operating the scheme that is to give victims some level of financial satisfaction.

I have to say that the representatives of the Association of British Insurers who have discussed the Bill and the scheme with me have given me an encouraging impression of how committed they are to operating an effective and well-run scheme that will get funds moving swiftly to victims. However, as I am sure the Minister will expect, it is not enough that we have a

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scheme run wholly in the interests of victims; the scheme must also be seen to be run in that way. That requires a tendering process that is entirely transparent. It requires transparency about the costs of running the scheme and who is recouping what payments for running the scheme, including details on a range of costs and fees that we are still unclear about: the legal fees, the arbitration costs, and the set-up and running costs. Those simply must not deplete resources that ought to be available to make pay-outs to victims. I hope that when the regulations are introduced, much more financial and operational detail will be given about the running of the scheme.

I am pleased that the Minister is working with colleagues in other Departments to sort out some difficulties that lie outwith his control but which, none the less, threaten either to derail or to have an adverse impact on this scheme. He said that he was working collaboratively with colleagues—I hope he will be a little more assertive than that. We urgently need a resolution to the difficulties created for us by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ new interpretation of disclosure rules in relation to employment records. I hope, too, that he will continue the dialogue with the Ministry of Justice about the baffling correlation it makes between the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 provisions on mesothelioma and this scheme, which is, of course, designed entirely for victims who cannot access civil justice through the courts.

Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): Has my hon. Friend had a response yet to the request in the letter she wrote to the Justice Secretary, which I believe was brought up in the Justice questions before last, about exactly this point? If so, will she enlighten us as to what the connection is between that Act and this Bill?

Kate Green: I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that I have had a response. In fairness to the Justice Secretary, I should say that a response was received before Christmas. Clearly, he took note of the debates that were happening in our Committee, and the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) was extremely helpful in expediting a response to a query that I had first raised in Justice questions on 11 November. I would be lying, however, if I said that I could now answer my hon. Friend’s substantive question as to what that connection is. It is not for me to put words into the mouths of Ministers or to suggest what Ministers think the connection is, but let me roughly paraphrase the letter. It said, “We think the two are connected because we are going to do them at the same time.” If I am doing wrong to the Minister’s colleagues in the Ministry of Justice, I am sure that they will want to make it clear how I am being unfair to them—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. I have given the hon. Lady quite a lot of latitude in respect of her comments about a parliamentary question, but I would like her to return now, however tempting the question is from the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr Slaughter), to the Third Reading and what is in this Bill.

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Kate Green: I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The scheme that we will pass into law tonight is a start, but it is far from being all we can do for the victims of mesothelioma. I am glad that Parliament will keep close oversight of the scheme via the mechanism of the four-year report. That must be an opportunity for the fullest and most open scrutiny and should be taken as a genuine effort to develop and expand the scheme. As debate on the Bill has proceeded, it has been quite clear that it is the strong will of parliamentarians in both Houses and across all parties to secure justice for sufferers of this appalling disease, which was so often contracted by people who simply went out to work to earn a living to support their families, and yet in so doing were put under terrible threat. Today we have made a start in securing some justice for those victims, but there is much more for us to do. We can, we must and—as it is the mood of Parliament—we will do better for victims than we have been able to do to date.

6.5 pm

Tracey Crouch: I am pleased that we have reached Third Reading of this Bill. It is a welcome Bill, but I remain disappointed that it is not as good as it could and should have been if we were to provide fair and reasonable justice to the victims of mesothelioma. I recognise the constraints that the Minister was under as a consequence of the negotiations that were made before the Bill entered this Chamber. Although it is a good day for the victims of mesothelioma, it could have been a great day for them had some of the amendments that were tabled on Report been listened to.

Mike Penning: Let me place it on the record—I think I did this earlier—that my hon. Friend could not have done more for her constituents during the progression of this Bill through the House. I paid tribute to her earlier on, and I do so again now.

Tracey Crouch: I am grateful to the Minister for his comments. My constituency has high levels of mesothelioma because of its dockyard history and the heavy industries that surround the Medway towns. Earlier, the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) expressed concern that I might be poacher turned gamekeeper as a consequence of my time in the insurance industry before coming to this place and trying to secure better compensation for mesothelioma victims. My bosses from my previous life know that I was strong campaigner for mesothelioma victims. Indeed I was proud of the efforts that I took during my time in the insurance industry to try to improve access to compensation. It just so happens that I was also elected to a constituency that has high levels of mesothelioma.

I am pleased that we had a debate today, but, as I have said, I remain slightly disappointed that nothing has happened to the Bill since it received its Second Reading. I see that as a failure in the way that Parliament works. Although I pay tribute to the Minister’s officials, who have worked incredibly hard and been generous with their time, it is a shame that the Bill that was prepared before our debate in Parliament is exactly the same now despite the fact that there is a strong will on both sides of the House to improve the legislation.

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Let me pay tribute, as I did on Second Reading, to Lord Freud. He had a difficult time in getting the insurance industry to the table. I notice from the list of meetings that he met with the industry many times. Although he has had fewer meetings with the asbestos working group, it has had access to civil servants. He has done a good job, and would, I think, share the Minister’s view that this is not a perfect Bill. In a perfect world, he would have liked much better legislation.

None the less, both Ministers, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) and Lord Freud, are quite right when they say that this legislation would not have happened had it not been for this Government, and I welcome that. I remember the negotiations that took place with the previous Government and it is quite right for the Ministers to say that they are proud of where they have got to. Mesothelioma victims will be better off as they will have access to some compensation but, as I have said, I still think that the Bill is flawed.

I also want to pay tribute to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips), who did a fantastic job in Committee in raising many of the issues I would have liked to have raised personally. He brought to the debate understanding of the issues of mesothelioma and the concerns of the victims. Having met victims, he understands how awful the disease is, that it is a fatal disease that can be contracted only through exposure to asbestos and that victims will, unfortunately, die an incredibly painful death. He did a fantastic job of bringing forward many of the points I would have liked to have made.

I also want again to pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins). He and I have worked on this issue for many months and years and it seems strange to stand up in this Chamber and discuss mesothelioma without his being in the House. I hope that he recognises that those of us who have tabled amendments and spoken in the debate have done so partly on his behalf. He has been a sound campaigner on the issue for many years. He is a decent man and all he wants to do is to try to improve the compensation for victims of this dreadful disease.

I look forward to the publication of the regulations and welcome the fact that there will be a review of the legislation. Like the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), I rather innocently and possibly even naively believe that we should be making legislation that does not need to be reviewed in four years’ time and that it could be better scrutinised and considered in this place and in the other place before it passes into law. We are where we are, however, so I congratulate the Minister on getting the Bill through the House on time. I am pleased that many victims will secure some sort of compensation for a disease that they got simply by going to work.

6.12 pm

Jim Shannon: I, too, put on record my thanks to the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), for the way in which she made her argument today on an issue that is close to all our hearts. I also thank the Minister. We know him as an individual, but we also know the work that he has done. His responses to our questions today would suggest

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that he might have wished to have seen something better but had to settle for a wee bit less than what we had hoped for.

Many passionate speeches have been made on behalf of individuals and families. They stick in my mind most of all because they come from knowledge and living with people who have had the disease. I have been an elected representative for almost 30 years as a councillor and an Assembly Member in Northern Ireland, and now I am privileged to be the Member of Parliament for Strangford. I have met a lot of people over the years who have had mesothelioma and serious health problems. I have helped some of those people with their disability living allowance and their incapacity benefit, as it was, or employment and support allowance, as it is now. I have seen those people deteriorate healthwise. I have known them personally and it was never easy to watch that marked deterioration in their health over a period of time.

My colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), wearing his other hat as Finance Minister in Northern Ireland, introduced legislation to deal with compensation and in doing so brought about equality and fairness for sufferers. Today, we have contributed to a Bill that might not go as far as we would like, as the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) and the shadow Minister have said, but which goes a long way towards addressing the issues of those sufferers and those people. For that reason, we should take some credit for delivering that for our constituents.

I would have loved more pressure to be put on the insurance companies, as was suggested in the previous debate, and the percentage of compensation is not what I wished to see. However, this is a big step as regards people out there being able to see that this House can deliver such legislation, and in an urgent fashion. The Minister said that his imperative was urgently to produce legislation that could deliver, and that is clearly what he has tried to do. We want fairness for these sufferers to enable them to have some quality of life in their lifetime, however short it might be. I always think of the families, in particular, who watched their loved one deteriorate markedly in a very short period. This Bill takes a massive step in the right direction for all of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

6.15 pm

Andrew Percy: It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon). I am also pleased to speak so soon after my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), who has done a fantastic job in highlighting this issue and fighting for her constituents, not just on this Bill but on the Bill that became the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, when we had a rebellion in this House which, I am proud to say, led to changes in the other place as well. I was happy to be part of that.

This is a big issue for my constituents and for those of my neighbour, the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin), who is on the Opposition Front Bench as a Whip today and so cannot speak. We have a mix of industries across our region, including the steelworks,

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which are largely in his constituency but also in mine. We have a shipbuilding past, particularly in Goole, and I have in my constituency a number of former coalminers and a lot of power station workers who, even today, are affected by this.

Mr Slaughter: I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman about the debate on LASPO in which Government Members played a strong part, as did Members in the other place. It is regrettable, though, that the Government are not going ahead with any changes to the provisions in LASPO, as was announced just before Christmas.

Andrew Percy: Indeed. My hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford just whispered to me that new clause 3, tabled in the name of the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins), who obviously, very sadly, cannot be here, would have progressed that matter as part of this Bill.

I will comment more on my unhappiness with some aspects in a moment, but I was regaling the House on the importance of this issue for constituents in my area, several of whom have been to see me. They do not just come from the traditional industries. Very sadly, a lady who is a former schoolteacher recently came to see me who has the difficulty of having worked for a number of different education authorities and suffers from this terrible disease. It is very sad when we meet these individuals because, as hon. Members have said, a diagnosis of this disease is a death sentence. That should not be forgotten in any of our debates, and I do not think it has been.

I am proud that the Government have introduced this Bill. Members in all parts of the House recognise that we now have a scheme that will provide for hundreds of people who otherwise would not have been provided for, and that is certainly progress. I am a little saddened that some of the debate turned into an attack on insurance companies, although I understand that there is legitimate cause for concern about the behaviour of some of them. I voted for the 80% compensation amendment because I felt that the extra £6,000 was significant and deliverable, and, like other Members, I could see no reason why insurance companies would walk away from such a deal. That £6,000 would have made a very significant difference to people in my constituency who suffer from this disease and who often live in some of the poorest areas.

I pay tribute to the Government for introducing this Bill and getting the scheme in place. I am sad that the Bill is not as good as some of us would have liked it to be, and I hope that that will be considered when it is reviewed. The hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) said that we would rather not pass legislation and then have to review it, but would rather it were perfect from the start. I suspect that there are very few pieces of legislation where that is the case, and this will clearly not be one of them.

I just want briefly to say, on behalf of my constituents who will benefit from this Bill, how pleased I am that something is in place. It may not be exactly what we wanted—some of us have tried to make it better and I am sorry we have not succeeded in doing so—but the scheme is to be welcomed and I hope we can all now support the Bill. I hope there will not be a Division, but if there is I shall be more than happy to support the Bill.

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6.20 pm

Mr Slaughter: I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this Third Reading debate. I have not taken part in the Bill’s previous stages, but I have followed it very closely and I will confine my comments to one specific point. It was raised in Committee on 13 December and was the subject of new clause 3, which was not selected for debate on Report.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. I am sorry to say to the hon. Gentleman that this is the Third Reading debate. It is not a debate about amendments that were not selected or a Second Reading debate. The Third Reading debate is about the Bill as it now exists. I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman will be out of order if he tries to make a speech that goes beyond the contents of the Bill as it appears now before the House. The hon. Gentleman is experienced in this House and I know that he will stick closely to that.

Mr Slaughter: I will indeed, Madam Deputy Speaker. I referred to new clause 3 simply because it was tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins). I was present when the Minister paid tribute to him earlier and I just wanted to add my voice to that, because my right hon. Friend has been of great assistance to me on this issue elsewhere. I think he would have wanted to address the issue.

If the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), was right to say in her response to my earlier intervention that the Bill no longer gives recourse to the matters dealt with under sections 44 and 46 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, it would be helpful if the Government could make that clear. The Bill

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has received qualified support from Members on both sides of the House and it would be helpful if those outstanding matters could be satisfactorily addressed.

There is an outstanding consultation or review to be had; the Government have not been clear about exactly what it will be. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East raised matters of serious concern. There has not been a proper consultation so far with regard to LASPO. The hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) has just alluded to the fact that when the issue was debated in both Houses there was a very strong feeling that mesothelioma should be exempt, but that is not being honoured by the Government.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman will sit down. I spoke to him very gently earlier. He has been in this House a long time and we all hold the right hon. Gentleman to whom he is referring in the very highest regard, but, frankly, the hon. Gentleman is now drifting considerably from this Bill and I now want him to refer only to the Bill or to conclude his remarks. I do not want him to refer to justice or other things; I want him to refer to this Bill and its contents.

Mr Slaughter: I am grateful for that guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have made the point that I wanted to make. I simply say to the Minister that, as this Bill stands on Third Reading, it would be helpful if the outstanding matters connected with mesothelioma could be dealt with properly and the Bill was not used as a way of occluding them.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with an amendment.

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Welsh Grand Committee

6.25 pm

The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Andrew Lansley): I beg to move,

That

(1) the matter of—

(a) the Autumn Statement as it relates to Wales, and

(b) the Government Response to Part I of the Commission on Devolution in Wales

be referred to the Welsh Grand Committee for its consideration;

(2) the Committee shall meet at Westminster at 9.30am and 2.00pm—

(a) on Wednesday 22 January to consider the matter referred to it under paragraph (1)(a);

(b) on Wednesday 5 February to consider the matter referred to it under paragraph (1)(b); and

(3) on each such day, the Chair shall interrupt proceedings at the afternoon sitting not later than two hours after their commencement.

The House will recall that Standing Order No. 108 specifies that a motion may be made by a Minister of the Crown providing for the Welsh Grand Committee to sit on specified days at Westminster or in Wales, at such hours as may be specified. The motion will allow the Welsh Grand Committee to meet twice in the next month to consider the autumn statement as it affects Wales and, separately, the Government’s response to part I of the Commission on Devolution in Wales. The sittings will take place on Wednesday 22 January and Wednesday 5 February at Westminster. They have been proposed in consultation with the Opposition and Plaid Cymru.

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The timing of the second sitting has been scheduled with the intention of informing the work of the Welsh Affairs Committee as it undertakes pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Wales Bill. The House will recall that the Secretary of State for Wales made a statement on 18 November. The draft Bill was subsequently published on 18 December, following publication of the UK Government response to the Silk commission’s first report on the devolution of tax and borrowing powers to the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government. The House will further recall that the UK Government agreed to almost all the recommendations, in whole or in part.

The Welsh Affairs Committee will take evidence on the draft Wales Bill this month, including at an oral evidence session on Tuesday 14 January. The Committee has set a deadline for written submissions of Thursday 16 January. It is the intention of the Committee to report in late March on the two main areas of the Bill—the devolution of taxation and borrowing powers, and the electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales. A meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee in the form proposed in the motion and focused on the devolution of taxation and borrowing powers will enable it to inform the pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill.

The two sittings will be the 10th and 11th Welsh Grand Committee sittings held during this Parliament. Since the 2010 general election, the Welsh Grand Committee has debated Budgets, Queen’s Speeches, the Commission on Devolution in Wales, legislative programmes, energy matters and the comprehensive spending review. The 2013 autumn statement and the draft Wales Bill can now be added to that long list. I commend the motion to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

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Dementia Care and Services

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Anne Milton.)

6.27 pm

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) (Con): Dementia services need to be addressed now. According to the Office for National Statistics, by 2030 the number of people entitled to draw a pension will be 15.6 million, of whom more than 3 million will be over 85. Society has done much to prolong lives through a focus on helping ageing bodies and faulty organs, but for too long help for the brain has not kept pace with that for the rest of the body.

With an ageing population, it is no surprise to hear the worrying prediction that 1 million people will be living with dementia by 2021, up from 800,000 today. There is obviously a massive financial worry resulting from the figures, especially when dementia is already predicted to cost the UK economy £23 billion a year, which is more than cancer, heart disease or stroke. It is therefore crucial to have plans in place that are proven to deal effectively and compassionately with dementia and that can be improved and expanded as necessary over the next 10 years.

Aside from the economic argument, the more pressing issue for me is that of compassion, care and support. When my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia 25 years ago, little support or information was available for carers. Being painfully aware that the last two years of her life were spent with little memory or recognition of family members, I now wish that she could have received an earlier diagnosis, so that we could have found professional help much earlier.

To put the problem that we face in context, I will give some statistics from the Alzheimer’s Society, which has been hugely supportive during my preparation for this debate and has worked to raise awareness of these issues in Parliament and throughout the country. One in three people over 65 will die with dementia. Two thirds of care home residents have some form of dementia. There are 600,000 family carers of people with dementia. It is estimated that a quarter of hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia. The most poignant statistic for me when I was preparing for this debate was that dementia is now the most feared health condition among people aged over 55.

Steve Rotheram (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this debate on such an important issue. As we know from previous debates, this issue is close to the hearts of many people in this Chamber who have first-hand experience of dementia. Given what he has said about people living longer, which is to be welcomed by everyone, does he agree that one of the most important things that we can do is to ensure that there is better co-ordination in the research into the prevention of dementia? The issue of treatment is secondary. Preventing people from getting dementia is surely the most important thing that we can do.

Alec Shelbrooke: I am grateful for the comments that the hon. Gentleman has made. He is right that we must not only treat the illness, but consider what preventive work can be done. I will speak later about the need for

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the national strategy to focus not only on the treatment of people with dementia, but on what other research can be done.

It is obvious that dementia is on the radar of an ageing society. However, given the emotional toll of dementia and its prevalence at the end of life, I was horrified to hear that only 48% of people who live with dementia receive a formal diagnosis, meaning that many people are denied the care and support that they and their loved ones need. Before the national dementia strategy for England was introduced in 2009, the rate was 33%. If further proof were needed that dementia care and services need to be improved as soon as possible, those awful diagnosis rates should be enough to show that something needs to change.

I am proud to be part of a coalition Government who have shone a long-overdue light on dementia, not least through the Prime Minister’s decision to host the G8 summit on dementia last month. However, there is still much to do before we can be confident that everyone who is living with dementia—individuals and families—is able to have a fulfilled life.

Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): It is good that my hon. Friend has secured this debate. It is not only the people who are suffering from dementia who are badly affected, but those who are looking after them. We must therefore not only get the diagnosis right for those who are suffering from dementia, but ensure that there is respite care for those who are looking after them. They need a break in order to fulfil their caring role properly.

Alec Shelbrooke: I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for those comments. I am sure that everybody has experiences of their own, but perhaps it will help the House if I speak about my grandmother, as I did earlier. I was aged about 12 or 13 at the time of her diagnosis, and my sister was two years younger. My dad was working as a teacher and supporting me, my mum and our family, but he was also dealing with his own mother. I remember the toll that that took on him. He had to work out what was the best thing to do for his mother. He toiled over the decisions that he had to make for a long time, such as selling the family home in which he had been born and brought up in order to raise money for the care home. My hon. Friend is right that there is a massive toll on the families involved, as well as on the people who have this terrible disease.

Despite the focus on dementia, there is a danger that the momentum that has been created by the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia, the G8 summit and the work of the Science and Technology Committee and the all-party parliamentary group on dementia will be lost if the Government do not act in a number of areas.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I thank the hon. Gentleman for bringing this matter to the House for consideration. Every one of us will have knowledge of this matter personally and from our position as elected representatives. One of the homes in my area has 23 residents and 20 of them have dementia. The magnitude of the problem is tremendous. Does he agree that an exchange of medical information would be helpful? Northern Ireland has the highest diagnosis level in the

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United Kingdom. Perhaps it is time to exchange the knowledge in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England to come up with a strategy for the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Alec Shelbrooke: I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am sure the Minister heard his comments and will perhaps reflect on them when he sums up the debate.

I was talking about a number of areas. First, to continue making improvements along the current trajectory, it is crucial that the national dementia strategy for England is updated from the 2009 version. That strategy identified 17 key objectives for the NHS and social services aimed at improving the commissioning of dementia services, the quality of care delivered in hospitals and care homes, developing a clear picture of research and evidence needs, and providing support for carers. Will the Minister please outline what meetings have taken place about the effectiveness of the NDSE, and say what plans he has for a formal evaluation of it?

Secondly, in spite of the obvious benefits of the national strategy, so far the Government have made no plans to renew it. I welcome the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia, which is ambitious in its plans and places a welcome political spotlight on the issue. However, that challenge alone does not provide the breadth of detail needed to guide health and social care services to make improvements, and neither does it carry enough accountability measures, which a national strategy would do.

A new national dementia strategy, with guidance for commissioners of health and social care, GPs, hospital trusts, care homes, and others, must be published before the current strategy expires in April this year. It does not seem to be a new trend of coalition Government not to renew national strategies, because in 2011, new national strategies for cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were published, and one for hearing loss is due.

Hazel Blears (Salford and Eccles) (Lab): I have been listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman who is making an eloquent and powerful case. His point about the strategy is fundamental. We have a system of different clinical commissioning groups, and a lot of fragmentation, and we need a holistic strategy that brings together the national effort. All credit to the Government for pursuing the issue, but I echo what the hon. Gentleman is saying about the need to renew the national strategy to maintain that momentum and energy, and ensure we get good services across the country. Will he join us all in continuing to press the Minister for renewal of the strategy?

Alec Shelbrooke: I am most grateful to the right hon. Lady, and I congratulate her on the work she does with the all-party group on dementia. She and all hon. Members will recognise that on this subject the whole House is fairly united in trying to get the Government to make those changes, regardless of whether we sit on the Government or Opposition Benches.

Our international partners, many of which attended the G8 summit in December, have ambitious long-term plans. In the US, for example, President Obama published a dementia strategy that runs until 2025, well beyond his own term as President. France has recently published

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its fourth dementia strategy. The economic case for having a clear directive for dementia is overwhelming. Dementia costs the UK £23 billion a year, which is more than cancer, stroke or heart disease, yet the annual research spend into dementia is about £51 million, rising to £66 million in 2015. That compares with £521 million spent on cancer.

The ambition announced at the recent G8 summit to double the spend on research in the UK by 2025 is an excellent step forward, but a new national dementia strategy that covers all aspects of dementia, including research into prevention and finding a cure, will ensure that the momentum gained from the good work undertaken by the coalition Government will be turned into improvements for people affected by dementia. To be clear, I am not suggesting that money be taken from the other crucial health causes I have mentioned; I wish merely to illustrate the numbers involved.

What plans does the Minister have to renew the current national strategy on dementia? That point was left unanswered in the Backbench Business Committee debate last year. As past statistics have shown, the introduction of a national strategy for dementia in England has caused a rise in the rate of diagnosis, although the level is still worryingly low at 48%. More needs to be done on prevention, particularly further investigation into whether the small change of introducing homocysteine level tests on the NHS could act as an early-warning sign in identifying the problem.

Mr David Ward (Bradford East) (LD): Bearing in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said about low diagnosis rates, does he agree that the national strategy should include promoting greater awareness for many of those close to dementia sufferers who do not identify with the condition? They think people are just losing their hearing or becoming visually impaired as they grow older, and the diagnosis is then made far too late because symptoms are not realised early enough.

Alec Shelbrooke: That is a very helpful intervention from my hon. Friend. I will move on to cover some of the care homes in my constituency that are tackling those issues as one, but as he says it is important that a national strategy has accountability written into it so that these issues can be tracked as we move forward.

More than half of people with dementia cannot access the treatment, services and support they need because they have not officially been diagnosed. Furthermore, carers of people living with dementia also suffer. They have the uncertainty of knowing that something is wrong with their loved one, but have no official diagnosis. Patients and carers are therefore denied expert support through health and social care services and often feel that they cannot approach organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society without a proper diagnosis.

In my constituency, the two clinical commissioning groups that are spread across Elmet and Rothwell have wide-ranging and impressive plans to increase diagnosis rates, but their ambition can go even further. Currently, NHS Leeds North diagnoses 50.85% of people with dementia, while NHS Leeds West CCG is only slightly better with 54.35%. My constituency reflects the picture across the rest of the country, meaning that half the people living with dementia are denied the certainty of a diagnosis.

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Heather Wheeler (South Derbyshire) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. Will he congratulate the staff of Lloyds bank in Swadlincote high street who have taken the Alzheimer’s Society as their charity of the year? The local Alzheimer’s carers group works there and raises hundreds of pounds every month for that very important cause.

Alec Shelbrooke: My hon. Friend eloquently describes the work going on in her constituency to raise funds for this very important issue. I wish to add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) on her dedicated work and on securing the debate last month, as well as to the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow). I hope that the recent momentum achieved by the efforts of the all-party parliamentary group to shed light on this issue will result in achieving the aim—backed by NHS England—of 66% of people with dementia receiving a formal diagnosis by 2015. It can be done, as some CCGs already have a 70% diagnosis rate. Can the Minister shed any light on why individual CCG diagnosis rates are so varied and do not add up to the NHS England ambition of 66%? Are there any plans to investigate further the effectiveness of homocysteine tests on the NHS?

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Is this not a very human problem? Diagnosis rates will depend entirely on whether people go to see their doctor, who, using a simple test, identifies whether someone has dementia. It is a bit unfair to say one CCG has a better rate than another because the determinant of the rate of identification is whether people go to see their doctor or are taken to see them by family and carers.

Alec Shelbrooke: I seem to be one page behind the House in my speech this evening, because interventions keep pre-empting the next part of my speech. My hon. Friend is correct that we need wider support. I have become a dementia friend, as I know many other hon. Members have.

The aforementioned points all combine in reality to have an impact on post-diagnostic support, as well as the support for those who have not been diagnosed but need care. In my constituency, some inspiring examples make me feel optimistic that dementia can be dealt with effectively and compassionately. I have seen at first hand that such support, delivered well and early in a person’s dementia journey can lead to better outcomes.

Jim Shannon: There have been great advances in medication. If people get an early diagnosis, medication can give them an extra five to six years of quality life. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is important that medication is available across the whole United Kingdom to give people with dementia or Alzheimer’s a better quality of life?

Alec Shelbrooke: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. He makes important points that reflect what the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram) said earlier: it is not just about treating the disease when it is there, but about how much preventive work can be done in the first place.

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As I said at the start of my speech, I wish only that some of the strategies, diagnoses and drugs that are now available were there for my grandmother 25 years ago. I was only about 11 to 13 years old in the two years before she finally went into a home, but I realise in hindsight how her quality of life was slipping away. I talked about the toll that that took on my father when he was trying to do what was best for his mother. He would be at work all day. His mother lived in south-east London while we lived 20 miles away in Kent and he would get a phone call at 3 am from her next-door neighbour saying, “Your mother”—she was in her late 70s—“is out walking the street in her nightgown.” Those are the pressures and there was nothing in place at that time. She was still living on her own and, as her grandchildren, we would still visit her. Today, I believe that she would have had a better quality of life.

I am encouraged by some of the things that are going on. I want to draw attention to a chap called Paul Mancey and his team at Orchard Care Homes. They are located in my constituency and are developing care partnerships between charities and care providers, which is very much what my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford East (Mr Ward) was talking about. This new approach means that residents are tested for hearing loss, diabetes and dementia symptoms on entry to the care home, ensuring that appropriate care packages are put in place.

Many other care homes are developing innovative ideas, too. I am pleased to say that care homes have developed immensely since we moved my grandmother into one in the early 1990s, and even more delighted that the leading company on the development of care villages is located in my constituency. Graeme Lee and his team at Springfield Healthcare have set the bar on building a quality and comfortable dementia-friendly care village at Seacroft Grange, which is located in the constituency of the hon. Member for Leeds East (Mr Mudie).

As is often the case, however, the truly inspirational support networks are not those provided by the professionals. My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) talked about early diagnosis, and there are community champions. One community champion in my constituency is Peter Smith, who established the Tea Cosy Memory Café in Rothwell, which provides a welcoming place for those with dementia and their carers, as well as making Rothwell the first dementia-friendly community in Leeds.

The Alzheimer’s Society has done great work to promote awareness of dementia. Hon. Members can play a greater role, too, in raising awareness. I alluded to the fact that, like many Members, I am proud to be a dementia friend and to support the work of the Alzheimer’s Society. I urge as many Members as possible to become a dementia friend and to help the Alzheimer’s Society.

Hazel Blears: I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman is a dementia friend. Will he join me in encouraging all Members to make their constituency offices dementia friendly? We have just embarked on this journey. We are looking at special signage and at constituency letters to ensure that they are written in a way that people can understand, and all my constituency staff have been trained to be dementia friendly. If every Member of Parliament’s constituency office was dementia friendly, that would be a significant step forward. Perhaps we could work together on that.

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Alec Shelbrooke: I hugely welcome what the right hon. Lady has just said. Perhaps I could be cheeky and suggest that she e-mail every one of us in this House to outline what she has been doing in her constituency office, because sharing information and best practice is the best way we can help people on this journey. I look forward to working with her.

I urge as many people as possible to become dementia friendly and help the Alzheimer’s Society achieve its goal of creating a network of 1 million friends across the UK by 2015.

Those examples prove what many health professionals know: that peer support networks and dementia advisers are effective in providing information to people with dementia and their carers, and they are valued by service users. They should therefore be supported and I welcome the “Carers call to action” campaign by the Dementia Action Alliance to promote this particular facet of the issue—not to mention that they are a relatively cheap intervention that also raises awareness of dementia and tackles stigma.

What are the Government doing to improve post-diagnosis support and what plans does the Minister have to ensure that all people with dementia have access to a dementia adviser or to equivalent suitable named carers?

6.49 pm

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet and Rothwell (Alec Shelbrooke) on securing another debate on dementia. It is important that we maintain the pressure, keep talking about this subject and keep challenging ourselves to take the necessary further steps. I am delighted to hear he is a dementia friend. I hope that everyone in the Chamber this evening is a dementia friend. [Interruption.] There is lots of nodding, which is encouraging.

Bob Stewart: Will the hon. Gentleman define exactly what a dementia friend is so that those of us who are not yet one can understand what we should do?

Norman Lamb: I am delighted by that intervention, because it gives me the opportunity to say something very quickly about the initiative being taken by the Alzheimer’s Society. If someone applies to be a dementia friend, they can go along to an hour-long session on understanding dementia better. It is very illuminating to go through that process. We got the initial idea from Japan, where it has gathered enormous momentum. If we can get a million people across society who better understand dementia, it could have an enormously powerful impact by making our communities more dementia-friendly and understanding and giving people with dementia a better life. I would therefore encourage my hon. Friend to become a dementia friend.

The right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) talked about her constituency office. I will accept the challenge she laid down. I absolutely accept the case she makes. We are all serving the public, and it is critical that we make our own facilities friendly for people with dementia and their carers. My constituency office staff do not know this yet, but I will encourage them to go through this process, as all right hon. and hon. Members should.

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I was struck by the constituency examples that my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet and Rothwell gave. He mentioned Paul Mancey of Orchard Care Homes, which is ensuring that people entering care homes get proper care and support and that their particular needs are met, and the Springfield Healthcare initiative.

Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire) (Con): I thank the Minister for allowing me to intervene on an issue that, usually because of personal experience, is close to our hearts. He speaks of the importance of care homes, understanding dementia and caring for sufferers properly, but does he agree that the best treatment is care in the home of the person suffering from dementia? In my experience, a change in circumstances advances dementia faster than anything else. By far and away the best way to treat people suffering from dementia is to make it Government policy to support people to stay in their own homes.

Norman Lamb: I broadly agree with my hon. Friend. The most important thing is that the care and support should always be right for the individual. Whatever they need they should be provided with. I recently visited the most amazing GP surgery in Gnosall, Staffordshire, which has managed—this demonstrates a point that my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet and Rothwell made about the variability of dementia diagnosis rates—to achieve diagnosis rates of close to 100%. That demonstrates what is possible. Most of the diagnosing is done in the community within primary care without referral to a memory clinic. What they have found is that by getting early diagnosis and then having very good community follow-up and support—the general practice is central to that—people are staying in their own homes and maintaining a good life for far longer and admissions to care homes and nursing homes are significantly reduced. That demonstrates what is possible and confirms the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Glyn Davies) made.

Steve Rotheram: Will the Minister give way?

Norman Lamb: I will. I am still on page one of my speech.

Steve Rotheram: I thank the Minister for giving way. He is absolutely right about the individual care package that somebody who, unfortunately, has dementia or Alzheimer’s gets. Thankfully, long gone are the days when somebody was given a couple of tablets in the hope that that might somehow affect their condition. Is he aware of the House of Memories project in Liverpool? Is he also aware that there is an event that I am hosting here on 17 June that Members of this House are welcome to attend?

Norman Lamb: I thought for a moment that the hon. Gentleman was not going to mention the House of Memories. He always does. Of course I am aware of it because he keeps talking to me about it and knows what I think. I am incredibly impressed by it and there is a plan for me to visit and see it for myself. He is right constantly to make the case for it and for spreading what has been demonstrated is possible in Liverpool to other parts of the country.

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It is less than two months since the last debate on dementia and it is a measure of the importance that Members put on the subject and the extent of the challenge that we face as a nation that, thankfully, the House has recognised the importance of debating it regularly. It is also less than two months since we published our dementia state of the nation report, which sets out the progress that we have made on dementia and the challenges we are facing.

The report is an incredibly important document because it also includes online a set of interactive maps that, for the first time, allows someone to enter their postcode to see how their local dementia services are performing and how that performance compares with the rest of the country. Having this level of transparency, as well as the extent to which people will be able to hold their own local areas to account, will have a big impact on driving up diagnosis rates. I have already made the point that some parts of the country have demonstrated that high diagnosis rates are possible. There is no rocket science here and no reason why other parts of the country cannot follow suit, understand and learn that best practice and, critically, apply it to ensure that people get the support they need.

My hon. Friend the Member for Elmet and Rothwell is absolutely right when he makes the point that unless someone has had that diagnosis, they do not get access to the advice, guidance, support and services that are potentially available in a local area to make the life of that individual better and, critically, to provide more support for the carer as well. The maps highlight the variation in dementia care across the country and allow people, but also commissioners and providers, to use the data to see how they compare against other areas and then work to deliver improvements.

Around the world, someone is diagnosed with dementia every four seconds. Over 35 million people have it and as people live longer than ever before that figure is set to double every 20 years. Among them, 58% live in low to middle income countries and this proportion is projected to rise to 71% by 2050. We cannot ignore the pressure on our health and care systems and dementia costs society as a whole as much as £23 billion in the UK alone. The cost of dementia worldwide has been estimated at about £400 billion, or 1% of the world’s GDP. This is why dementia is a major priority for the UK Government and why the Prime Minister launched a dementia challenge in 2012. But we must fight back on an international scale, breaking down barriers and joining forces to address this issue, which has such an enormous human and economic cost.

Five years ago, the national dementia strategy was developed. It has achieved a lot, laying the foundations for real change. We are currently evaluating progress on dementia and on how we have achieved improvements in dementia care, and we are looking at both the national dementia strategy and the Prime Minister’s challenge. I shall come back later to the point about what comes after, and it seems to me sensible first to understand—

7 pm

Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 9(3)).

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Anne Milton).

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Norman Lamb: That was unexpected; I have never had this happen to me before, so I apologise for looking confused! I shall carry on.

It makes sense to understand the success—and, indeed, sometimes the failures—of the current strategy and the Prime Minister’s challenge before designing what follows on afterwards. It is absolutely clear—I have tried to demonstrate this on other occasions—that something must follow; there must be a continuation. This disease has such a profound impact on people and on society that we have to keep developing our understanding and maintaining the momentum.

Hazel Blears: I am grateful for the Minister’s commitment that there will be a follow-on from the dementia strategy. He is right to look at what has worked and what might not have worked quite so well. My concern is that whatever comes next must find a way of uniting the whole system. In proceedings on the Care Bill, we debated integration and how important it was, particularly for dementia, because it will save us money. When the Minister looks at the next set of strategies, I urge him to bear in mind that the country must not have in place a set of fragmented relationships that are not bringing the system together to make things better for people with dementia and their carers. The economic impact on the country is also important.

Norman Lamb: I very much agree with the right hon. Lady on that. I think that what she argues for is developing. We are not there yet, but it is important that we have developed this ambition to achieve a diagnosis rate of two thirds, which encourages every part of the system to focus on what it needs to do. It is not a nationally imposed arbitrary target; it was based on getting every part of the system to think about what it can achieve by setting ambitious objectives. Collectively, that amounts to an ambition to achieve a two-thirds diagnosis rate, but in itself, of course, a two-thirds diagnosis rate is not good enough. We should not be satisfied when we achieve that; we have to press on. We know that the community in Gnosall has a diagnosis rate of close to 100%, so we should not be satisfied until everyone is getting properly diagnosed on a timely basis. I agree with the right hon. Lady’s point. Under the new system, with the health reforms making clinicians much more involved in the commissioning of care locally, there is a greater chance of getting the engagement of general practice across the country than we perhaps had in the past through the primary care trust route.

Jim Shannon: Has the Minister had an opportunity to consider the point I made in my intervention on the hon. Member for Elmet and Rothwell (Alec Shelbrooke), which was about the exchange of good practice and information between the four regions of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England? Ever mindful that the highest levels of diagnosis for the whole of the United Kingdom are found in Northern Ireland, has the Minister had a chance to discuss these matters with the Health Minister, Edwin Poots from the Northern Ireland Assembly, for instance, to take the issue forward? We all gain from good practice across the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and we all gain from the exchange of good ideas.