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Asbestos payments to be quicker

CATHERINE MacLEOD and CAMERON SIMPSON, The Herald, March 14, 2007

All victims of cancers contracted through contact with asbestos are to be eligible for faster compensation.

The government plans were set out yesterday in London. They follow the lead of the Scottish Executive which changed the law in Scotland just before Christmas so that people would no longer have to choose between claiming damages for themselves or waiting so that relatives could possibly claim more after their death.

The latest move was welcomed last night by pressure groups and politicians alike.

Joan Baird, a campaigner with the Clydebank Asbestos Group whose husband died from mesothelioma more than 10 years ago, said: "It's marvellous news, wonderful. You can't replace a loved one but those responsible should pay up."

Michael Clapham, Barnsley West & Penistone MP and chair of the all-party occupational safety group, said: "We have been campaigning for exactly this over the years for what John Hutton, the work and pensions secretary, has announced. We are over the moon."

Last month scientists warned that nearly 200,000 people would die in the future from lung cancer because of exposure to asbestos. Those particularly at risk are people born in the 1940s who worked in the construction industry, such as carpenters, laggers, shipyard workers, metal workers and electricians. However, it is not just former workers who are at risk. Under the present rules only people who contract the disease from exposure to asbestos at work are eligible to claim a lump sum from the state but under the proposals set out by Mr Hutton, up-front financial support will be provided within six weeks to people who were previously not eligible.

Speaking at a mesothelioma summit in London, Mr Hutton said: "We're committed to ensuring that everyone with mesothelioma can receive compensation, irrespective of their employment history. This legislation would mean that once diagnosed, every sufferer should receive a substantial payment within six weeks of making a claim."

 
 

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