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Mesothelioma Act 2013-14
Bill is now an Act
Type of Bill:
The Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech on 8 May 2013 and aims to ensure that sufferers of certain asbestos- related cancer receive compensation payments in the absence of liable employers or insurers.
An agreement with the insurance industry to establish a £300m compensation scheme, subject to legislation, was announced last year by the DWP.
The agreement was met following a DWP consultation in order to correct a market failure where insurers failed to keep ade-quate records of Employers' Liability insurance during historic times when exposures to asbestos were taking place.
Currently around 3,500 mesothelioma victims in the UK are unable to claim compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or employers' liability insurer.
The Bill aims to:
- Establish a "scheme of last resort" funded by a levy on the UK Employers' Liability market for those with Diffuse Meso-thelioma where their employers' liability insurance company cannot be traced
- Make payments funded by a levy on live Employers' Liability insurer
- A Technical Committee to make binding decisions on disputes about whether a particular employer maintained insurance at the time of the person's exposure to asbestos will be established
Additionally, payment of the levy would be compulsory for all currently active employers' and would be in addition to the £200m the insur-ance industry already pays each year in compensating mesothelioma sufferers.
Claims to the scheme could be made by anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma from 25 July 2012.
The Association of British Insurers welcomed the Bill as it would provide mesothelioma sufferers with better support.
NASUWT welcomed the Mesothelioma Bill but called for a "programme of asbestos removal from schools and other public buildings."
Should the Bill become an Act, it will extend to the United Kingdom.
After a short debate in the House of Lords, the Bill was read for the second time and committed to a Grand Committee.
In the Mesothelioma Bill's first day in committee, amendments 7, 8, 12, 13 and 41 on eligibility for the scheme were debated, while the dates covered by the scheme were considered by amendment 9. Amendments 1 to 6 dealt with the responsibilities of the secretary of state and Parliament around the Bill and the scheme, and about establishing the scheme on a statutory basis. Funding for mesothelioma research was debated in relation to amendment 31.
In the report stage, the government were able to secure an agreement to pay 75 per cent of average civil compensation, an increase of five per cent; and the government intended that scheme payments would rise in line with CPI each year. In addition, peers pressed amendments to impose a research levy on the insurance industry, and to further raise the level of compensation payments, to votes which were lost. Other amendments related to widening the scope of eligibility, allowing those diagnosed before 2012 to apply also, and widening the provisions of the Bill to include other related diseases.
In the House of Lords third reading, the Bill was passed to the House of Commons following a short debate. The Bill was read for the first time in the Commons on 29 August 2013.
The Mesothelioma Bill was passed at second reading stage in the House of Commons on 2 December 2013, with cross-party support over the need to pass the legislation as quickly as possible to ensure victims received compensation payments promptly.
However, Labour raised concerns over the level of compensation payments and the cut-off date from when victims could claim.
The first day of committee stage took place on 10 December 2013. The committee considered clauses 1- 3 of the Bill. All of which, were agreed to. The committee stage concluded on 12 December 2013 with the clauses 4-21 and schedules 1-2 of the Bill considered. Clauses 4-20 and schedules 1-2 were agreed to. Clause 21 was agreed to, as amended. The Bill was subsequently passed to the report stage with amendments.
Minister of state for disabled people, Mike Penning led the report stage of the Mesothelioma Bill (Lords) in the House of Commons on 7 January 2014. The Bill passed both the report and third reading stages.
Amendments looking at changing the level of compensation insurance companies had to pass on to victims and levies for mesothelioma research were tabled and defeated.