New Bill proposes making it easier for victims of asbestos to claim compensation from government

Sufferers from an asbestos-related illness will be able to claim compensation more easily under new government proposals.

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons yesterday. Subject to a parliamentary vote, it will go to committee before being made law.

Under the terms of the Bill, sufferers of mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer brought on by asbestos exposure, will be able to more quickly and easily claim a lump sum compensation from the government. Payment will also be extended to relatives of deceased mesothelioma victims.

The Bill also contains provisions to compensate people who may have caught mesothelioma by exposure to relatives working with asbestos, by such means as washing their clothes. Previously only suffers who contracted the disease in the workplace were eligible for compensation.

Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie supported the move: "This legislation is warmly welcomed. The Government is moving in the right direction in helping to alleviate the suffering of victims of this terrible disease," he said.

There is presently no known cure for mesothelioma and sufferers usually die within months of diagnosis. Symptoms may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure and the number of deaths each year are expected to increase, reaching a peak between 2011 and 2015.

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