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Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Miners' payout 'too slow'
Miners
The bill for miners'compensation could reach 4bn
The government has been told by the High Court to speed up compensation payments to former miners.

Solicitors acting for more than 100,000 men whose health was damaged by work underground said former miners were dying while they await "pitifully slow" compensation.

Miners helmets
Only 19 out of 20,000 claims have been assessed in North East

Less than one in seven miners eligible for payments has received compensation.

High Court judge Mr Justice Turner has ordered the Department of Trade and Industry to explain the delays.

Tom Jones, from Thompsons' solicitors said: "Men are dying while the government cannot get its act together to administer the scheme."

He said that just 19 out of 20,000 cases in the North East had been assessed.

'Highly complex'

A spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said: "We have got to work out how to make his highly complex scheme work more quickly."

The compensation bill could total 4bn which would be the biggest industrial payout in UK history.

The DTI has been urged by solicitors to hand out interim payments while the process is examined.

The DTI spokesman admitted the compensation process was moving "slower than we would like".

More than 111,000 claims have been lodged so far but that figure is expected to rise above 200,000.

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