HC Deb 13 March 2003 vol 401 c361W
Ms Walley

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the liability of licensed small coal mines to contribute to coal health compensation claims. [101836]

Mr. Wilson

Licensed small mines have liability together with British Coal for respiratory disease and vibration white finger. The Small Mines Federation is negotiating with the Department and the claimants' solicitors about accession to the claims handling agreement for respiratory disease. Discussions are ongoing with regard to appropriate tortuous dust levels, job dust factors and respirator factors. The issues involved are complex, but a good measure of progress has been made and the Department is pressing for a further meeting on 19 March. Small mines already contribute to compensation under the separate claims handling agreement for vibration white finger.