HL Deb 14 April 2000 vol 612 cc444-5

3.49 p.m.

Lord Bach

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Whitty, I beg to move the Motion standing in his name on the Order Paper. These regulations are made under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979. Their purpose is to increase by 2.5 per cent the amount of compensation paid under the Act to those who first satisfy all the conditions of entitlement on or after 1st June 2000.

The 1979 Act, which was introduced by the previous Labour government, provides for lump sum payments to be made to sufferers from certain dust-related diseases, or, when the sufferers have died, to their dependents, where there is no realistic chance of success through the courts. All noble Lords recognise that no amount of money will ever compensate individuals and families for their suffering and loss. These regulations, however, allow us to ensure that the compensation provided for in the original Act maintains its value.

The purpose of the regulations is to increase by 2.5 per cent the amounts of compensation paid. The human rights aspects of these regulations have been considered and I am confident that they comply with the Human Rights Act. As was said by my colleague the Minister in another place, I am grateful to the Opposition because, although I am ready to speak for longer, they have indicated that they are prepared to accept the Motion.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 20th March be approved [14th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Bach.)

The Earl of Courtown

My Lords, I thank the Minister for describing the regulations, with which we on these Benches are in complete agreement. Perhaps the Minister will spend a few moments explaining the increase this year compared with the time when the matter last came before the House.

Lord Bach

My Lords, as I understand it, the increase is in line with inflation, in precisely the same way as before. That is exactly how the regulations have worked in the past and are intended to work. Perhaps the noble Earl did not hear me clearly. It is essential that year by year those who have suffered, or whose dependents have suffered, do not suffer further because of inflation. That is the precise reason why the figure chosen on this occasion is as it is.

On Question, Motion agreed to.