HC Deb 22 March 2001 vol 365 c305W
28. Mr. Coaker

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the progress being made on miners' compensation claims. [153659]

Mr. Hain

Substantial progress has been made but we still need to do more.

In the last few weeks, we have agreed with miners' solicitors how compensation for loss of pension will be handled. This element of compensation amounts to around £400 million. This is the last piece in the jigsaw. This now means that, over the next few months, we will see many full and final offers of compensation made.

And as I said in my earlier reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Michie), in the last eight weeks alone we have announced a package of measures which will see £million's of additional compensation being brought forward and offered quickly to a whole raft of claimants.

Many of these will not previously have been made an offer. We are also clearing a large backlog of medical reports, which will enable 1,000 claims a week to go forward to have compensation assessed over the next three months. I am also pleased to see the number of respiratory consultants employed on this scheme steadily increasing. We now have 228 in place an increase of almost 25 per cent. from a few months ago. The number of medical assessments carried out per week is now well over 600—an increase of 50 per cent.

All of this is progress on top of the £360 million already paid on miners compensation . We are paying out over £1 million a day on coal compensation.