§ Mrs. Liddell
We have made over 6,000 offers based on spirometry testing and so far 927 claimants have accepted. Over 16,000 individual interim payments have been made. So far over £45 million in compensation has been paid to ex-miners and their families. The first full medical assessments have begun and we anticipate that substantial numbers of offers will rapidly follow.288W
In addition we have settled over 10,000 claims for Vibration White Finger and paid out over £63 million in compensation to ex-miners.
§ Mr. Denis Murphy
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress his Department is making in relation to the settlement of damages claims made by former mineworkers for chronic bronchitis and emphysema; how many claims have been(a) received and (b) settled; and what action is being taken to ensure the speedy processing of the outstanding claims. 
§ Mrs. Liddell
As at 25 January, the Department has received 94,011 claims of which 1,047 have been settled in full and final payment. In addition the Department has made 16,390 interim payments to ex-miners and their families. To date over £46 million has been paid in damages.
Some 39,479 screening spirometry tests have now been conducted meeting the required target when the contract was let. Screening spirometry should be completed for the vast majority of remaining claimants by March 2000.
Eight centres have so far been established to provide the services for the full Medical Assessment Process and 23 teams are currently engaged in collecting medical records. A total of 25 centres will be established by the end of February 2000. The first assessments have begun and the infrastructure is in place to process claims fully in accordance with the Handling Agreement reached with the solicitors representing former miners.