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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 06:08 GMT 07:08 UK
Miners' 300m compensation
Miners
Some 25,000 former Welsh miners made compensation claims
More than 300m has now been paid to former miners and their families in Wales for health problems as a result of working underground.

That means that a fifth of the 1.5bn paid out so far in coal industry compensation has gone to Wales.

A total of 319m has been delivered so far, according to figures issued by the Wales Office on Monday.

Most of it - some 229m - has gone towards claims for respiratory diseases such as pneumoconiosis.

Another 90m is for the condition known as vibration white finger.

The compensation scheme - which came about after British coal was found negligent in relation to lung diseases - is the largest personal injury scheme in British history.

While we are talking of massive figures, there is no room for complacency
Wales Office minister Don Touhig

There has been fierce controversy over the payments, with miners complaining that the process has been slow.

Many former pitmen have died before receiving any money.

An estimated 25,000 claims were made by Welsh miners, and Government ministers had pledged to speed up the process.

Wales Office Minister Don Touhig welcomed the announcement by the Department of Trade and Industry last week of the total 1.5bn payout so far.

Miners
Miners' health risks were not always recognised in earlier times
The Welsh figures included 32.6m awarded to Welsh claimants between 16 March - 1 June. Some 27m has gone to respiratory claimants, and 5.6m for vibration white finger.

Mr Touhig said: "While we are talking of massive figures, there is no room for complacency.

Justice

"I am determined that no stone should be left unturned until we have secured justice for each and every miner eligible for compensation and their families," he added.

On Monday Mr Touhig, the MP for Islwyn, will chair the Welsh sub-group of the body which monitors coal health claims.

Two other Labour MPs who represent former mining areas have joined the group: Dai Havard of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, and Huw Irranca-Davies, of Ogmore.

Mr Touhig said the Welsh group provided a crucial element in speeding up the payouts and solving problems.

It includes people from trade unions, lawyers, Wales Office, Welsh assembly and the bodies who handle the claims.

"We have got to make sure that the compensation schemes moves as rapidly as possible and that we continue to target our priorities, the oldest miners, the most ill and the widows," he said.

"It is not about the money. It is about the justice of the case - recognition of what the miners went through underground.

"Dai Havard and Huw Irranca-Davies have been selected by their fellow Welsh MPs to fill these two vacancies on the sub-group.

"Like me, they are MPs representing former mining constituencies, and their close and regular contact with former miners, their widows and families will be of great value to the group in its deliberations."


SEE ALSO:
Ex-miners' death toll revealed
28 Jan 02  |  Wales


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