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On bovine TB, the milk was always used because it was pasteurised—Louis Pasteur gave us the answer—but in early 2006 it was decided at European Union level that the milk of reactors could not be used. The carcass meat goes into the food chain minus the lesions. That is a fact and there is no new announcement in respect of that. My right honourable friend also took into account other matters put to him by the public.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, I lived through the virtual elimination of TB and was involved in searching the countryside for TB-free cattle. It was eliminated county by county. Indeed, we used to go up to Castle Douglas in Scotland to get TB-free heifers. I had a badger sett on my smallholding in the 1980s, but there was no TB around and so I did not tell anyone that I had it. But the situation now is totally different.

The deputy chief vet in Ireland says that its culling policy saves up to 15,000 cattle a year at present and he challenges some of the decisions that have been made this side of the border. I do not expect the Minister to give the show away, but is there a difference of opinion between government vets and Defra?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, the Secretary of State received veterinary advice from experts within Defra, who advised him that without addressing the reservoir of infection in badgers it would not be possible to eradicate bovine TB in endemic areas. The Secretary of State took this into account alongside other considerations when reaching his decision not to allow licences to be issued to cull badgers.

Lord Grantchester: My Lords, the Statement repeated by my noble friend says that bovine TB is transmitted between cattle and between cattle and badgers. Is it not correct that it is also transmitted between badgers? It goes on to say that what has dominated the debate is whether badger culling would be effective in controlling the disease. Surely what has dominated it is whether this problem can be solved by tackling the disease solely in cattle and not in both cattle and badgers.

In deciding not to issue any licences to cull badgers for TB control, why have the Government dismissed the recommendations of the EFRA Select Committee in another place, together with the scientific evidence of a more practical control area put forward by the ISG report and the advice of the scientific adviser at the time, Sir David King?

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Everyone accepts that vaccination will be the answer, but a vaccine has always been years away and is more a function of time than money. My noble friend is aware of the frustration felt in livestock areas at the paucity of progress in tackling TB. I speak as a dairy farmer in Cheshire. I am, fortunately, not under any disease control restriction, but a near neighbour two miles away is one of the 1,826 new herd test breakdowns between January and April this year, with confirmed premises 15 per cent up on last year’s figure. Surely the pre-movement regime should eliminate all cattle-to-cattle transmission.

The Statement refers to risk management. Can my noble friend state who is taking the risk in the countryside? A judicial review case is pending on the discriminating and unfair system of tabular evaluation, yet the Holstein-Friesian cattle society put forward a reasoned, independently assessable schedule of value. Why has this system not been accepted? The number of false positives taken under the gamma interferon blood test has also caused extreme distress to livestock families because the cost of error falls on the farmer. I fear many farmers may well say that it is not right for them to take this risk.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, my noble friend asked too many questions for me to answer in the time available. I cannot say anything about compensation because of the judicial review that is under way. My right honourable friend in the other place made it clear that he was grateful to the EFRA Select Committee for its report. He also made it abundantly clear that he took the view that, from a practical point of view, a culling operation would not succeed and could make matters even worse.

My noble friend is quite right that badger-to-badger transfer takes place in large setts with more badgers and more food. Living in crowded conditions was how human beings caught TB in the first place. Badger-to-cattle transmission is heavy; I understand that it accounts for about 70 per cent to 80 per cent of cases and that cattle-to-cattle transmission accounts for about 10 per cent of cases. It is difficult to be precise. Of course, if you have a closed herd, you have a real problem if it contracts TB.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, am I wrong in recalling that, in his valedictory address at the most recent Parliamentary and Scientific Committee lunch, the previous chief scientific adviser to the Government urged a badger cull, and am I right in inferring from what my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach said that the successor agrees with his predecessor?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I gather the noble Lord was talking about the government chief scientific advisers. Sir David King’s view was much maligned because he agreed with the conclusions of the independent scientific group; I heard him saying to Professor Bourne, alongside whom he was sitting, that he agreed with him. He went on to say, however, that he thought that in the circumstances a widespread regulated cull could make a significant contribution to the reduction of TB, and that was the advice he gave the Government. Just

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before we received the ISG report, the former Secretary of State, David Miliband, asked Sir David to give us a view. He put together a group of independent people who had not been involved in the studies over the year, and they gave us a view and a report that was published last year, regrettably later than intended because of foot and mouth delays. I do not know the views of Sir David’s successor, although I understand that he disagrees with his predecessor.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the Report stage of the Housing and Regeneration Bill will resume immediately at the end of the dinner-time business. We will not be adjourning for pleasure.

Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) Regulations 2008

7.31 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton) rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 23 June be approved.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is a requirement that I confirm to the House that these provisions are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. I am happy to do so.

These regulations are made under Part 4 of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008, and they provide the conditions that must apply before a lump-sum payment under the mesothelioma scheme 2008 can be awarded.

During the debate in Grand Committee on the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, was keen that we debate the regulations coming out of what was then Clause 44, dealing with the conditions of entitlement, as well as having a debate on Clause 43, dealing with lump-sum payments, which the Bill already provided for. The debate on these regulations deals with both lump-sum payments and conditions of entitlement.

The Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 currently provides lump-sum compensation payments to sufferers of certain dust-related diseases, or their dependants, who are unable to pursue civil action because their former employers have ceased to carry on business. Mesothelioma is one of the diseases covered by the 1979 Act; it is a fatal disease caused by exposure to asbestos. It is a sad fact that it is now the most common cause of work-related death. It is estimated that one out of every 100 men born between 1940 and 1950 will die of the disease.

Some sufferers of mesothelioma are not entitled to a lump-sum payment under the 1979 Act because, for instance, they were not directly exposed to asbestos in the workplace but were exposed through a relative who worked with asbestos. Part 4 of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 introduces a new scheme that breaks the link to workplace exposure to asbestos, and provides up-front financial support within around six weeks to those people who are not currently eligible for help from the Government.

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The amount of money that will be paid as a lump sum under the new scheme to a person with mesothelioma is set out in Regulation 5 and table 1 in the schedule to these regulations. The amount paid will vary for different people, based on the age at which they were diagnosed with the disease. Those diagnosed earlier in life will receive more. It is estimated that up to 600 people who do not currently receive help from the Government will receive, on average, £10,000 each during the first two years of operation of the new scheme.

While no amount of money will ever compensate individuals and families for the suffering and loss caused by mesothelioma, those who are suffering deserve some form of monetary compensation. It is essential that the sufferer should receive some level of compensation before it is too late. That is why we will pay more to sufferers in life, to encourage them to claim in life. A claim can, however, be made by dependants after the death of the person with mesothelioma if that person did not make a claim in life. Regulation 5 and table 2 in the schedule provide for those payments. The amount awarded to a dependant depends on the age of their relative at the time of their death from mesothelioma.

Regulation 4 makes it a condition of entitlement to a lump-sum payment that a person must have been exposed to asbestos in the UK. It is not right to extend responsibilities to those who were exposed abroad only, with different work practices and regulatory regimes for asbestos handling.

The Act specifies that if a person receives certain payments from elsewhere for their mesothelioma, they will not qualify for a payment under the 2008 Act. Regulation 2 specifies further payments from elsewhere that, if applicable, will mean that a person is not entitled to a lump-sum payment from the new mesothelioma scheme. It is right that people are not compensated twice for the same condition so, if they have received another payment, they will not receive one from the 2008 Act. I should clarify, however, that if a lump-sum payment under the new mesothelioma scheme, or the 1979 Act, is made in error and is liable to be made, Regulation 3 provides that that erroneous payment will not prevent a second award of a lump-sum payment to which a person may be properly entitled.

For the sake of completeness, I should add that if a lump-sum payment is made under the new mesothelioma scheme and it is subsequently discovered that a higher payment under the 1979 Act was appropriate, Regulation 6 provides for a balancing payment to be made so that overall the person receives the higher amount.

As noble Lords will know, the scheme is self-financing. It is being financed by recovering payments made under the 1979 Act and, eventually, payments made under the new 2008 Act from any civil damages that may be awarded later. That device also means that people are not compensated twice for the same condition but, in addition, uniquely provides the funding for the much-needed scheme. Because the 2008 Act is self-financing, the level of payments for the first two years will be what can be afforded out of the recoveries from civil damages. We estimate that by the third year of the operation of the 2008 Act, we will be making payments at the same level as those of the 1979 Act. Once that happens, I am happy to say that the level of payments

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will then be uprated in line with those of the 1979 Act. A person with mesothelioma will then receive exactly the same amount, whether they receive it from the 1979 Act or the 2008 Act.

Overall, the regulations provide for the scheme to be as simple as possible: simple for people to understand, simple to make a claim, and simple for administrators so payments can be made within six weeks of a claim being made. Lung cancer nurse specialists across the country have been sent copies of our leaflet Help and Advice for People with Mesothelioma, which we have asked them to give to people newly diagnosed with the disease. The leaflet gives advice on claiming help from the Department for Work and Pensions as well as claiming compensation from employers. To receive a payment from the DWP, a person must complete an application form and send proof of a diagnosis of diffuse mesothelioma. Provided that the person was exposed to asbestos in the UK and they have not already received a payment from elsewhere in respect of their mesothelioma, they will receive a payment.

I am sure we all agree that no amount of money will ever compensate these sufferers or their families. However, the regulations will help us ensure that people receive a lump-sum payment quickly and, wherever possible, in life. I commend the regulations to noble Lords and ask approval to implement them.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 23 June be approved. 23rd report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.—(Lord McKenzie of Luton.)

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, the House will be most grateful to the Minister for introducing the order so fully and caringly. I accept his original implied criticism that I brought this debate upon myself and upon the House. I would add, though, that I have had more than a little help from around your Lordships’ House in so doing.

Mesothelioma is, as he almost said, a particularly horrible form of cancer, almost invariably caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. It has been compensated for, if necessary by the state, for many years under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979, which, through annual uprating orders, has provided a certain level of compensation to sufferers of certain dust-related diseases who are unable to pursue a civil claim because their former employers have gone out of business. Clearly, it would be quite wrong for such people to receive compensation through the courts from insurance companies, which remain liable for the years in which premiums are paid, even though that may no longer be paid at the time of the claim. At least, I believe that to be the case, and I should be grateful if the Minister would confirm this. Whether I am right or wrong, double compensation was prevented by the Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997.

More recently, as the Minister said, we have had the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act, which came on to the statute book earlier this year, and from which these regulations flow. This extended the scheme away from employment and covers any United Kingdom sufferer of mesothelioma, which may have been caused

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by workmen in a private house removing asbestos so carelessly as to cause the owner to inhale asbestos fibres. He will be eligible for a payment, provided he has not received compensation under either the 1979 or the 1997 Acts.

The regulations provide for how and when a claim must be made. I understand that some 600 people stand to benefit from a payment of £10,000 over the next two years. The department is to be congratulated on combining the claim for this payment with the one for industrial benefits.

However, there are some serious questions to be asked. First, my research threw up a curious anomaly, which I had not registered before. According to the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, of seven European countries, we have the highest incidence of mesothelioma, at 39 per million people, while the lowest is in Germany, with only 16 per million. Can the Minister tell me why this is?

When will the sufferers, who will receive this new benefit within six weeks of application, start to receive the payment? It is clear that this will depend on the amount of advertising that the department undertakes. I believe that only a press release is currently contemplated, but I noted that the Minister said that this was to be issued to lung cancer centres around the country. Is he confident that that will be sufficient? Will the press release be sent to GPs’ surgeries and put on jobcentre and public library notice boards? Whatever the answer to these questions, as long as the Government keep their promises, we most certainly approve the order, as we did the policy on Second Reading of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act.

Baroness Thomas of Winchester: My Lords, I, too, welcome this new mesothelioma scheme, which, as the Minister said, is expected to help up to 600 people who do not currently receive help from the Government, with a payment estimated at £10,000 during the first two years of the scheme’s operation.

My two questions are very much like those of the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale. I was struck by the note in the Explanatory Memorandum that a press release was to be issued. That did not seem to me to be enough. Would it not be worth mounting a press advertising campaign to ensure that everyone entitled to claim has the opportunity to do so? However, I, too, noted the Minister’s further explanation of how this would be sent to lung cancer centres.

My second question relates to the same part of the Explanatory Memorandum, where it tells us that the department’s leaflet, Help and Advice for People with Mesothelioma, will be updated by early 2009 to contain references to the new scheme. Why will it take so long? Surely a new leaflet should be made available by the end of this summer at the latest.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I am most grateful for the support for these measures from both opposition Benches. I shall try and deal with the points raised.

I am afraid I do not have to hand the comparison with the Finnish occupational health data, but I shall see what the department has and will revert to that.

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However, these are often very long latency diseases; we are dealing now with the consequences of exposure decades ago—40 years or sometimes even longer.

Lord Skelmersdale:That must apply equally to other countries, my Lords.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Indeed, my Lords. My point was that one has to look at the industrial conditions that prevailed at the time, not now. However, I will see what information I can get for the noble Lord.

Both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord asked whether the publicity we are putting out will be enough. The key thing is to reach people at the point of diagnosis so that they know that they can contact the DWP. They are invariably advised to contact a lawyer to seek civil compensation as well. As I explained in my opening remarks, that happens routinely at the moment. I am sure that more can be done, and I am happy to take back the message about doing things more generally and centrally.

The noble Lord asked whether one could be compensated for this only once. The answer is yes. As I explained, and I think he is aware, we are funding this through compensation recovery. Typically, in a civil claim, the compensators deduct from that the benefit paid by the state. This is putting the onus back on them.

I cannot tell the noble Baroness off the top of my head why it is taking so long to update the literature, but I will have it looked into. We want to do this as quickly as we can. We are confident that there are effective means by which to reach people who are diagnosed with this terrible disease so that we can help them to the fullest extent possible. I hope that that satisfies noble Lords.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Social Security (Students Responsible for Children or Young Persons) Amendment Regulations 2008

7.46 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton) rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 14 May be approved.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, these regulations are being introduced for jobseeker’s allowance and income support so that single students with children will be entitled to claim the appropriate benefit during the summer vacation of their course.

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