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Ucatt: Government is stalling on compensating asbestos victims

Construction union Ucatt has raised concerns over whether the Government is intending to deny compensation to thousands of construction asbestos victims.

Ucatt’s fears come as the Government has still not responded to the consultation on restoring compensation to pleural plaques sufferers, seven months after they promised to do so.

Pleural plaques - scarring on the lungs - multiplies the risk of fatal disease such as mesothelioma - by 1,000 leading to considerable anxiety among sufferers.

The Government’s consultation into restoring compensation for pleural plaques sufferers was launched in July 2008 and concluded in October 2008.

At the time of the consultation’s launch justice minister Bridget Prentice said that the Government would “aim to publish our response within a month of receiving responses to the consultation”.

On 28 October 2008 the justice secretary Jack Straw told the House of Commons that he hoped “to announce our response next month”. No announcement was forthcoming.

Earlier this year Gordon Brown the Prime Minister, twice promised an early resolution to the pleural plaques compensation issue.

On 11 February 2009 Mr Brown told the House of Commons: “I can assure you there will be an announcement very soon.”

In early April 2009 Mr Brown was again asked about pleural plaques, and he said: “The justice secretary will make a statement on this when we return after Easter.”

However on 5 May 2009 Jack Straw said: “Consideration of the responses…. is taking longer than we anticipated, because of the complexity involved.

“However, I certainly intend that we should come to conclusions before the summer recess.”

Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said: “These constant delays in responding to the consultation are becoming decidedly sinister.

“Thousands of ordinary working class people have had their health needlessly damaged by breathing in asbestos. The Government’s delay and inaction is increasing their suffering.”

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