HC Deb 13 November 2000 vol 356 c502W
Mr. Watts

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to speed up the process of settling outstanding compensation claims. [136961]

Mrs. Liddell

In relation to claims for respiratory disease, progress has been too slow. However, in September I announced a twin track approach.

Firstly, we are making offers of increased amounts as expedited payments to thousands of miners and are extending expedited offers to some claimants not previously eligible, without them undergoing further tests. To date we have already made some 9,720 additional and new offers totalling £32.4 million. Altogether we hope to make over 19,000 offers totalling around £100 million before Christmas.

In addition, I announced an increase in the numbers of medical testing centres and record scanning teams. We are also seeking to streamline the Medical Assessment Process and records collection, and these proposals are being taken forward with the claimants' solicitors.

On Vibration White Finger, we aim to have carried out initial assessments on all the existing claimants by the end of next year. A further assessment may be required for those claimants seeking compensation for loss of services but this is still under consideration.

In total, this Government have now paid out some £250 million in respect of the liabilities we inherited from British Coal.

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