Despite the first reading of the Damages (Asbestos- Related Conditions) Bill taking place in the House of Lords on 19 October 2009, the government failed to include it in the Queen’s Speech after it ran out of Parliamentary time. A Private Members’ Bill was set to bring back payments for victims of pleural plaques but it failed to make it through the Lords before the end of the last Parliamentary session.The failure to mention the Bill in the government’s proposed legislative programme further delays the battle for sufferers of the disease to receive mandatory compensation. Victims have been seeking a return to compensation payments since Law Lords ended the right to payouts from insurers following a ruling in 2007.
Labour MP for Blaydon, Dave Anderson, said that because the coming Parliamentary session is likely to be short in advance of a General Election, it was always unlikely that the Bill would be included in the Queen’s Speech and that he was “working to find a mechanism to get (the Bill) through”.
Mr Anderson has launched a Parliamentary petition to seeking to overturn the 2007 ruling.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has also launched a campaign aimed at tradesmen warning of the dangers of asbestos. The HSE said that around 20 tradesmen die each week in the UK from asbestos-related diseases. The campaign aims to highlight the danger of working with the substance and has labelled it as “the hidden killer”.