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Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos. It is a “long-tail” disease – symptoms may not appear until decades after exposure – but when symptoms do appear, it is often rapidly terminal.

The Bill provides the legislative framework for a new 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 an employer, and who are unable to bring a claim for damages against the employer or an Employers’ Liability (EL) insurer. The scheme is to be funded by a levy on insurance companies and, under current plans, would make payments to people first diagnosed on or after 25 July 2012. It is hoped to make the first payments in July 2014.

The original proposals for a scheme were set out in a consultation paper published by the Labour Government in February 2010. The incoming Government conducted detailed negotiations with the insurance industry before publishing its response to the consultation on 25 July 2012. Further discussions between the Government, the insurance industry and other interested parties took place before the Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 9 May 2013. The Bill extends to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This briefing has been prepared for the Second Reading debate on the Bill in the House of Commons.

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