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The Mesothelioma Bill [HL] 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 by summer 2014.

The Bill was introduced in the Lords on 9 May 2013 and the Lords Third Reading was on 22 July. The Commons Second Reading debate was on 2 December, and the Bill was considered by a Public Bill Committee over four sittings (on 10 and 12 December). The Commons Report Stage and Third Reading are scheduled for 7 January 2014.

This note summarises developments since the Bill was introduced in the House of Commons. It complements – and should be read alongside –

Library Research Paper 13/66, which gives detailed background to the Bill and an account of the proceedings in the Lords.

No amendments (other than a technical Government amendment) were agreed in the Public Bill Committee. Throughout the Commons proceedings, Ministers have emphasised the desirability of avoiding amendments, on the grounds that a period of “ping-pong” with the Lords could delay the introduction of the scheme. There were however Ministerial undertakings to reflect further on certain issues raised by Members in Committee, before Report Stage. The Opposition has said that, if amendments are made at Report Stage, it would seek to ensure that any delay due to ping-pong would be no more than 24 hours, for the Bill received Royal Assent as quickly as possible.

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