§ Mr. Clapham
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the estimated total legal bill for the Government for the recent coalminers' respiratory diseases action. 
§ Mr. Battle
[holding answer 9 February 1998]: The Government took over this liability from British Coal on 1 January 1998. Total costs of defending the litigation are approximately £10 million to date, with the vast majority of costs having been met by British Coal. In addition, the Government will meet the plaintiffs' costs, as instructed by the High Court on 6 February, as and when they are presented and finalised.