§ Mr. Clapham
To ask the President of the Board of Trade when her officials last met British Coal to discuss the progress made to date with the introduction of a no faults liability scheme for former miners suffering from vibration white finger. 
§ Mr. Battle
I understand from British Coal that, over recent years, they have received 12,000 or so claims from former staff that they now suffer from vibration white finger, a condition whose symptoms include blanching and tingling in the fingers. A trial of a small number of "lead" cases, to help establish any liability the Corporation might have, began in Autumn 1995, was taken to the Court of Appeal in Autumn 1996, and resumed in Newcastle this Spring. Departmental officials have been kept abreast of developments, as DTI provides 121W the necessary finance for British Coal's activities and will be directly responsible for their management when the liability is transferred from the Corporation at the end of the year. I understand that some unlitigated claims are being settled on a normal common law basis, but that no proposals for a "no fault" scheme are under discussion.