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Therefore, on 10 February, we launched a consultation on two proposals to improve the situation. We agree that an essential first step is the creation of the employers' liability tracing office to manage an electronic database of employers' liability insurance policies and to operate a tracing service for insurers and individuals. We envisage that the database will initially be voluntary but will in time become mandatory to provide a complete record of all employers' liability policies issued. A tracing office along these lines will be a significant benefit to many thousands of people who need to trace policies. The ABI is already driving forward work on this proposal, which will take into account consultation responses.

While a tracing office will ensure that in future more people can obtain civil damages for industrial disease, we know from experience that it will still be difficult to trace historic policies, especially for individuals suffering from long-tail diseases. We therefore also propose to establish an employers' liability insurance bureau, as suggested by a number of stakeholders and parliamentarians. It will provide a fund of last resort in cases where all other efforts to trace an employer or insurer have failed. This will give peace of mind to many workers who know that they were exposed to asbestos but who do not now have symptoms. They will have confidence that if they later develop an asbestos-related disease, they will be able to claim the civil compensation to which they are entitled.

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The consultation is examining issues such as what the bureau should cover, the impact on insurers and employers, how much should be paid by way of compensation and the limitations on claiming from the bureau. The Government will consider fully the responses to the consultation before determining the next steps towards the bureau's introduction. We believe that the changes we are proposing will make a real difference to the lives of people who suffer from these terrible work-related diseases and to their families.

The noble Baroness asked about contributing to the consultation. The consultation document and guidance on how to respond were sent to key stakeholders and are published on our website. We are also holding a series of consultation roadshows in Leeds, London, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow. We have invited stakeholders to give face-to-face feedback.

With the exception of one point, I think I have covered each of the points that have been raised. The noble Baroness is quite right about the 1.5 per cent increase. As we discussed on another occasion, we believe that it is important to give some people extra support now, but the 1.5 per cent will be deducted from the full uprating a year from now.

I am grateful to noble Lords for their support for these regulations.

Motion agreed.

Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) (Payment of Claims) (Amendment) Regulations 2010

Copy of the Regulations
Copy of the Report

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by Lord McKenzie of Luton

Relevant document: 7th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

Motion agreed.

Committee adjourned at 6.54 pm.

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