GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF DRAGGING ITS FEET ON PLEURAL PLAQUE COMPENSATION SCHEME FOR ENGLAND

March 20, 2009 12:01 AM

Newcastle East Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman Greg Stone has called for the Government to take swifter action over the campaign to award compensation to retired workers suffering from pleural plaques after working in heavy industry.

In October 2007, the Law Lords ruled that victims could no longer claim compensation, with Government consultation on a review of this decision closing in October 2008.

On October 28 last year Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced in Parliament he would take a final decision "next month" - November 2008.

No announcement has yet been forthcoming.

However, on March 14, the Scottish Parliament voted to set aside the Law Lords ruling, reopening access to compensation for sufferers in Scotland.

Greg Stone has raised this issue with Lib Dem MP Willie Rennie on a recent visit to the Tyne shipyards.

Mr Rennie is MP for Dunfermline, which includes the Rosyth shipyard area and has a high number of former shipyard workers and miners who have been affected.

Greg Stone said: "Willie has given helpful advice to me on this issue. Whilst it is welcome that MSPs in Scotland voted with Lib Dem support to re-allow compensation claims, the same policy is not yet in force in England, and the Government still will not commit to making its mind up.

"I acknowledge that Nick Brown MP has vocally supported the pleural plaques campaign, but it is the Government that he is a senior member of which is delaying this much needed scheme.

"I support the aims of this campaign which is an important issue for constituencies with an industrial history like Newcastle East. The Government needs to introduce a Bill in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in order to cover not just pleural plaques but similar industrial diseases that are caused by negligence.

"The scheme also needs to be designed so that it is not just another way to help lawyers cash in ahead of sufferers, and that people do not miss out because the company responsible has gone out of business."