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Mesothelioma Bill

Volume 563: debated on Friday 10 May 2013

Yesterday the Government introduced the Mesothelioma Bill. The Bill provides for the introduction of a “diffuse mesothelioma payment scheme” to make payments to people with diffuse mesothelioma who were exposed to asbestos either negligently or in breach of statutory duty by their employer in the United Kingdom and who are unable to bring a claim for damages against a relevant employer or that employer’s employers’ liability (“EL”) insurer. In addition to the proposed payment scheme the Bill provides for a technical committee to be established, which will make binding decisions in disputes between an EL insurer and a person with diffuse mesothelioma about whether the insurer was providing EL cover to a particular employer at the time the person with diffuse mesothelioma was negligently exposed to asbestos.

This Bill meets the commitment made in our response to the previous Government’s consultation, published on the 25 July 2012:

In addition to the proposed payment scheme and technical committee the consultation response detailed proposals to compel membership of the Employer Liability Tracing Office (ELTO). We have looked at this proposal closely and have concluded that, while this is not possible, we can still achieve the desired outcome of helping more people to successfully trace an insurer against whom to bring a claim.

The Financial Conduct Authority are considering requirements around the tracing of EL insurance policies that will mirror those that are operated by ELTO which should result in more evidence of cover being passed to people with mesothelioma. The Government consider that these measures combined will result in an overall improvement in the tracing of EL insurance policies.

In addition to this written ministerial statement we are publishing the impact assessment and delegated powers memorandum that accompany the Bill. These detail the costs and benefits for the proposed payment scheme and also explain the rationale for the delegated powers we have included in the Bill. Copies of these documents will be available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

The consultation response also included various measures to do with the process that a person with diffuse mesothelioma has to go through in order to bring a civil claim for damages. The Ministry of Justice will be consulting on these measures in 2013. The consultation will look at matters such as the proposed pre-action protocol (PAP), claims portal and a fixed costs regime in relation to mesothelioma claims.

Later today I will place a copy of the relevant older papers, impact assessment and delegated powers memorandum in the Libraries of both Houses.