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Held on 15 February 2000
4 p.m.
Committee Room 20
Second floor
Houses of Parliament







Chairperson Mike Clapham MP


Dr.. N A Godman MP

Ian Fitspatrick MP

Tony Worthington MP

Roy Beggin MP

Jeffry Spencer MP


Charlie Kavanagh - Liverpool & District Asbestos Victims Support Group

John Flanagan

Mike Fleming


Dr. Nancy Tate MBE, OEDA

Sara Marsden TGWU

Own Tudor TUC

Ian McFall Thompsons Solicitors

Tom Jones Thompson Solicitors


Ivor Harris BSIF

Tommy Coley BSIF Denis Hands CITB

Geoff Hooke BSIF


Karen Outran Health & Safety at Work Magazine




Ian Stewart MP

Peter Kilfoyle MP

Phyllis Craig Clydeside Asbestos Support Group

Judith Church MP

Stephen Day MP

AnDr.ew Dismore MP

Gwyneth Dunwoody MP

Michael Hancock MP

Ian Stewart MP

Allan Whitehead MP





The Chair, Mick Clapham declared the first meeting of the sub committee open. The committees brief is to look at all asbestos related issues. The Chair reminded everyone the sub-committee is under the umbrella of the All Party Occupational Health Services Committee.


The sub-committee has been set up to exclusively look at asbestos related issues because of the complexity and the wide ranging implications asbestos dust continues to have on health and the environment. It is planed initially the sub-committee will meet twice yearly.


He added the sub-committee will present us with the opportunity to look at all the issues on asbestos and invite the views of Asbestos campaigning groups, Occupational Health groups and others on a problem which sadly will keep us occupied for years to come. The Sub-committee will also present us with the chance for us to express our concerns and suggestions on matters concerning Industrial Disease, D.S.S. compensation, workplaces etc straight to Ministers.


As an example of the complexity the Chairperson reported on the number of cases from the power industry in which asbestos related eye problems seem to be prevalent.


Dr. Tait was invited to adDr.ess the meeting commemorating the work of the late Dr.. Molly Newhouse. Dr. Tait reported that Dr. Molly Newhouse had recently died and she had attended the service. Nancy briefly reported on the contribution that Molly had made to the recognition of asbestos as being a health hazard.






John Flanagan from the Liverpool and District Victims of Asbestos Support Group (L.D.V.A.S.G.) outlined the submission as follows. The Liverpool Group Dr.afted the following sections unless otherwise stated.


It was explained the submission had been discussed and circulated for comments to Asbestos Support Groups all over the country. The submission document had also been circulated previously to members of the sub-committee (Please note the minutes contain an amended version of the submission document). For a copy of the full submission please contact the L.D.V.A.S.G.


1. Duplicate diagnosis of mesothelioma for the purpose of applying for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. (I.I.D.B.). Prescribed disease D3.


The current procedure for applying for I.I.D.B. appears to only serve to delay Benefit Agency (B.A.) payment to people when they most needed it. The very large majority of applicants were in effect diagnosed twice, once clinically by a hospital consultant and again for the BA. It has been suggested this should change while keeping the necessary checks and balances in place to ensure welfare benefits are not paid to those not entitled to receive them.


2. Asbestos related disease sufferers and their relationship with Health care Professionals. Submitted by the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group.


Concern had been expressed by some Victim Support groups as to the lack of understanding and support given by some health care professionals to victims and their families. While it was felt this was not by any means the norm, anecdotal evidence pointed to it being true in far too many cases. The issue could be adDr.essed with very little expense by relating to medical staff and identifying best practice, such as the protocol used by breast cancer services.


3. Issuing of DS 1500 report form. ("Special Rules") for the Assessment of qualification for Disability Living Allowance (DLA.).


It was explained the procedure presently used, in effect for the terminally ill to receive benefit in a "fast track" system, which in some circumstances failed to work because a small number of GPÕs were reluctant to sign the form because of the apparent good health of the patient in spite of the inevitable poor prognosis of a mesothelioma patients.


4. Reported plans to repeal the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit Scheme. (I.I.D.B.)


This issue had been included in the submission due to press speculation. It was felt that if the government was to repeal consideration should at least be given to the latency period of asbestos related disease.


5. A proposal for a national help line for A.R.D. sufferers and their Families.


Nurse Mavis RobinsonÕs (Macmillan nurse, Cookeridge hospital, Leeds) was cited as an example of excellence and could become a blue print for a nation wide help line for A.R.D. sufferers. However the help-line was currently only for Macmillan nurses and is in danger of losing it's funding.


Tom Jones reported Clydeside Action on Asbestos and the G.M.B. Trade Union had a telephone help-line in the northern region and we had to avoid duplication. We should avoid Telephone help-lines competing with each other and ensure any services are co-ordinated.




6. Asbestos lung fibre counts at post mortem.


Dr. Tait was invited by the Chair to speak on the subject because she has studied the problem for more than 15 years. OEDA uses it's electron microscope to analyse, photograph and measure fibres but discontinued fibre counts several years ago because the results are so unreliable. Nancy explained that some coroners were still returning verdictÕs of "Death from Natural Causes" for some A.R.D. patients because they rely on Lung fibre count reports from the Environmental Lung Disease Research Group (ELDRG) at Llandough Hospital, Penarth Wales, rather than evidence of substantial exposure to asbestos during working life, such as statements made by the deceased in life, witness statements and experts' reports.


Dr. Tait circulated a document (enclosed) outlining the problems and to illustrate the point outlined 2 cases, one a carpenter, the second a former power industry worker, each with a history of several years exposure to asbestos during employment. Both died from mesothelioma. ELDRG advised the Coroners that death should not be attributed to occupation. ELDRG has published that asbestos fibres are never evenly distributed in lung tissue, which means that the number of fibres counted is never typical of the lung as a whole. Nancy reported that a leading specialist wrote to one coroner that he regards levels of up to one million amosite (brown) and one million crocidolite (blue) per gram of Dr.ied lung tissue as normal for an urban population and he only regards chysotile (white) above fifty million as abnormal. Dr. Tait said she knew of no published study, which supports these opinions.


Some Coroners are using Cardiff Laboratory guidelines. The whole area needs to be investigated; it is a battleground for civil litigation and a nightmare for families. The insurance companies rely on a few specialists who support the ELDRG approach and claimants' lawyers often fail to challenge it. The technique is as inconstant and controversial as Drug testing for athletes


It was Dr. Tait's view that guidelines, which include occupational exposure levels as well as a lung fibre count.


Tom Jones of Thomsons said it could be a real trauma for families at inquest with no support on hand. It may be an education issue for coroners who should be informed of the support available to families. John Flanagan reported coroners have a newsletter, which is published and distributed every 3 months and suggested this medium could probable be used.


The Chair said he would write to the chair of the Industrial Injuries Council and the sub committee could then decide on the next step.


7. Financial support for victims support groups.


Mick Fleming from the Liverpool Group talked about the lack of information given to victims and the mental anguish they and their families go through.


Agreed the sub-committee would look at the funding situation for groups and the general issues of services for victims and their families.


8. Civil litigation in asbestos related disease.


Because of the Civil Procedures Rules introduced by the Woolf Report discussion took place on how these new procedures were working in practice and what impact the further changes to be introduced on April 1, including the virtual scrapping of Legal Aid, was having. Ian McFaul from Thompson gave a very informative outline of the new rules and suggested how improvements could be made.


9. Tracing employer's liability insurance policies.


The government had published a Code of Practice (COP) to help litigants and their representatives to trace insurance companies. While an alternative method of dealing with litigantÕs claims was identified in the submission it was felt this issue would have to wait until after the review of the COP in November of this year. Ian McFaull stated he had already started a file on the success/failure rate of the COP and advised all those in the legal field to do likewise in order to be able to present a case at the COP review stage.


Ian McFall briefly explained the step victims of asbestos had to go through before they could take legal action. Including trying to trace the insurers responsible for insuring the claimant at the time of exposure to asbestos dust. If the claimant could not identify the insurer then legal action would not proceed. The person would then go on to the Department Environment Transport Regions (D.E.T.R.) 1979 Act route for compensation which is much lower than would normally be awarded by the courts.


Some members of the sub committee expressed concern that the naming and shaming policy for insurance companies who did not disclose the name of the insurers in civil litigation cases was not punitive enough. The Scheme needs to be monitored with the intention of reviewing how it has worked in the first year.


Charlie Kavanagh from the Liverpool Group reported that they had met officials from the DETR 1979 Act today and they had reported that they had paid out approximately 10 million 1998-99 and officials expected an approximate rise of 20 % in costs each year due to the new numbers of asbestos victims applying.


Correspondence had been received from the Lord ChancellorÕs Department (LCD) in reply to Mr. Ian Stuart MP raising the issue that money was being wasted in repeatedly calling for EngineerÕs ReportÕs to identify the working conditions of litigants in when well known occupations have been documented in previous cases. It was felt the letter from the LCD supported this point of view and consideration should be made as to how this can be publicised within the legal world.



10. Memorial to those who have died of asbestos related disease. Submitted by ODEA.


Dr. Tait proposed to erect a memorial to those who have died as a result of asbestos related illness. Dr. Tait said she has a large postbag covering the subject particularly from widows.


The Chair said the issue could be explored with the D.E.T.R. minister and involve the TUC victims support groups etc. We could also attract a lot of media attention. The media could be involved


An action point on each item of the agenda requiring further action to be taken. All correspondence will also be passed on to members of the sub-committee.








A. Section 10 of the Armed Forces Act.


John Flanagan reported that a former Naval seamenÕs widow in Liverpool was considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights on the Crown Immunity Act on the basis of being denied the right to take legal action on behalf of her late husband.


Ian McFall reported on the legal aspects of section10 of the Crown Immunity Act and how it works to bar former armed service personal from suing the Ministry of Defence. Ian reported that Thomsons is pursuing claims against the manufactures and suppliers to the armed forces, one such suppler being Turner and Newel on the basis of product liability. The costs and implications of repealing the Act should be looked at seriously.


It was reported that the Royal Navy is currently engaged in an asbestos-cleaning programme which is costing several millions.


B. Conference in Northern Ireland


Tom Jones reported that the proposed discussion on holding a conference in Northern Ireland was still on. The Chair said we could look to respond to the proposed conference when the minutes are Dr.awn up. Northern Ireland has, because of its shipbuilding traditions, a particular high rate of asbestos related illnesses.




Date for Next Meeting to be Arranged







Front Page, Week Of:

4/16/05: Spectre to Introduce U.S. Asbestos Bill This Week

5/22/05: Individuals Injured by Asbestos Exposure Oppose Specter's Trust Fund Legislation

10/16/05: Victim's Organizations Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust Fund Legislation

11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose Jesus Pessora

12/18/05: Frist Introducing Asbestos Bill in January

12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter: Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION

Jim Fite's Alerts:

Asbestos Victim's Superfund Compensation Program

Asbestos Watch March 14, 2005 (Maryland chapter of the White Lung Association meetings)

Directorate of Safety, Health, and Environment (open letter)


Joe Oliver's Alerts:

Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.

If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.

Leonard Makowski's Alerts:

The White Lung Association stands in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)

WLA Alerts & News

S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing products - This bill is supported by the WLA.

Meet Mr. Asbestos

Proceedings of the Asbestos Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.

Australia Bans Asbestos!



Senator Specter Breaks Promise to Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community

Senate Judiciary Committee returns to Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases


World Trade Center Health:

In May 2003, the Global Environment & Technology Foundation developed the "Asbestos Strategies" report.

British Asbestos Newsletter:

The latest issue is Spring 2005


News from India:

The latest issue is January 4, 2007



December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day


Current Projects:

Asbestos Museum


Articles & Publications:

Occupational Respiratory Diseases: Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts

Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White Lung Association



In Memoria:

Paul Safchuck May 21, 2003

Dr. William Nicholson Dies at 70

Ray Sentes Brave Fighter For Asbestos Victims

For more information please contact info whitelung org.