Plaid reveal real disgrace of UK Labour’s coalfield legacy

Carmarthen East & Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards has issued a damning attack on the Labour party as figures reveal almost 150 Miners from within his constituency died before receiving their entitled compensation for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) from Tony Blair’s Labour Government.

Across the UK a total of 17,895 former miners died before their COPD claim was paid, over 3,000 of whom were from Wales.

Compensation payments were delayed by legal wrangles when the former Labour UK Government opposed the bid for compensation by the mining trades union, NACODS. 8,311 claims took more than ten years to settle.

After the Labour Government lost their case against the union in the High Court in January 1998 – less than 12 months after Tony Blair entered number 10 Downing Street – poor administration and insufficient resources in the claims handling department meant further delays in paying out money.

A report published in 2007 by the National Audit Office into the COPD scheme and the Vibration White Finger scheme concluded: “The Department might have been able to deliver the schemes more quickly and more cost effectively had it been better prepared at the time of the Court rulings and more particularly in the period of transition of responsibility from the Corporation.

“The Department produced limited strategic oversight or forward planning on how it would handle any resulting liability and insufficient resource was allocated to the task. This lack of preparation was to make the Department’s task significantly more difficult to administer, require substantial effort to put right, and cause frustration and upset to some claimants.”

Jonathan Edwards AM said:

“These figures are a damning indictment of the legacy of the last Labour UK Government. Tony Blair’s Government were forced to award compensation for respiratory diseases after being dragged through the Courts by NACODS. The result was an overly cumbersome scheme which led to massive pay outs to solicitors for processing claims, with delayed compensation payments for those suffering from terrible injuries as a result of their years of service working within the nationalised industry. Labour should have settled out of court by accepting liability, and put in place a far more effective system for awarding rightful compensation.

“The fact that 146 miners from my constituency died before receiving their entitled compensation should serve as a reminder that when in power, the interests of ordinary working people are the last thing on the mind of the Labour party.”

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