HC Deb 30 April 1998 vol 311 cc235-6W
Mr. Rowlands

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimate she has made of the number of disabled miners who have been assessed to date for PDD12 emphysema and chronic bronchitis; and how many of these were aged (i) 50 to 55, (ii) 55 to 60, (iii) 60 to 65, (iv) 65 to 70 and (v) over the age of 70 years. [39856]

Mr. Battle

I understand from the Analytical Services Division of the Department of Social Security that at 5 April 1997 the number of disabled miners with PD D12 assessments were 11,463. Only 4,386 of these have been assessed by age band and these break down as follows:

Age band Number assessed
Under 50 10
50-55 43

Age band Number assessed
55-60 280
60-65 505
65-70 682
Over 70 2,866

There have been a further 7,077 successful claimants following relaxation of the qualifying criteria for PD D12 in April 1997 but, at present, the DSS have no age analysis available.

We are continuing to offer interim payments of £2,000 to those miners seeking compensation for emphysema who are also in receipt of PD D12 benefit. Such offers are being made to those in the 80+ age band as a priority on receipt of PD D12 certificates from claimants' solicitors. However, we are also making offers to claimants in age brackets below 80+ (in descending order) wherever practicable, to ensure that we reach our minimum target of 5,000 offers by the end of June.

Mr. Rowlands

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimate her Department has made of the number of miners or their widows who will be excluded from compensation for respiratory diseases by the Limitation Act 1939 in(a) Wales, (b) England and (c) Scotland. [39855]

Mr. Battle

As part of our proposed scheme for handling respiratory disease claims, we have made it clear that no attempt will be made to use the limitation defence (other than under the 1939 Act as provided by the judgment) where emphysema is established in the claim, including claims from widows. However, we intend to take limitation arguments, where appropriate, in respiratory disease claims where emphysema is not established. Our proposals are currently being discussed with the Solicitors' Group representing the majority of claimants.

We are, at present, unable to estimate the total number of claims we are likely to receive, either from ex-miners or widows, or the number of claims for each specific condition. I am therefore unable to provide my hon. Friend with the regional breakdown requested.