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Miners' Compensation

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many requests he has made for repayment of sums wrongly taken by UDM/Vendside from his Department in the last month; and for how much. (100250)

No such request has been made. The Department has, however, asked the Union of Democratic Mineworkers for comments on their relationship with those solicitor firms to which they have referred work.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice his Department is providing to individual consumers on complaining to the Law Society about double charging by solicitors for miners’ compensation claims. (100258)

The Department explains that it pays solicitors’ fees and that it does not expect claimants to have to make additional payments. The Law Society have advised that, unless full information was given to the miner at the start of the case that most firms of solicitors did not make additional charges in these cases, any charges the solicitor makes to the claimant is likely to give rise to a finding of inadequate professional service.

Claimants are also advised that the Law Society has a Helpline (0845 608 6565) which claimants may contact with any complaints about individual firms of solicitors. The Department has been active in encouraging claimants to contact the Law Society in this respect and included this information in its most recent Compensation for Miners newsletter.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former miners have received a full and final payment of less than £1,000 for chronic bronchitis and emphysema in each of the last three years. (99892)

The number of miners who have received payments of less than £1,000 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the last three years are shown in the following table.

Number of claims settled by payment1

1 January 2004 to 31 December 2004

14,630

1 January 2005 to 31 December 2005

15,109

1 January 2006 to 31 October 2006

6,842

Total

36,581

1where total value is less than £1,000 in period

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in establishing a minimum compensation payment for former miners suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. (99893)

The Claimants’ Group (CG) have indicated that solicitors are currently implementing a simplified minimum payment scheme and payments should start to be made shortly to eligible claimants. We welcome this initiative and hope it is successful in settling unresolved low value claims.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many successful claims there have been from former miners in Barnsley East and Mexborough for (a) chronic bronchitis and emphysema and (b) vibration white finger; and what the total value is of such claims. (99894)

As at 30 September 2006, the number of claims made by miners in Barnsley East and Mexborough for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and, vibration white finger (VWF) that had been settled by payment was 12,537. In total, £100.4 million had been paid to Barnsley East and Mexborough constituents.

Constituency statistics for COPD and VWF are updated monthly and are available from the DTIs website:

http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/coal-health/statistics/constituency/page20839.html

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reasons Capita refuses to pay claimants for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vibration white finger directly in circumstances where the claim is settled and the fee has been returned by Vendside Ltd. to Capita. (100124)

Under the Claims Handling Agreement, payments are made to a claimant’s representative with whom all correspondence relating to a claim is exchanged. Claims are settled once an offer has been accepted and payment made. If Vendside Ltd. returned the compensation cheque, it may be that they no longer represent the claimant. In these circumstances, the claimant would need to appoint another representative.