STRETFORD and Urmston MP Kate Green has been fighting for the rights of victims of mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, in Parliament this week.

Ms Green said Tuesday’s Parliamentary debate was a timely tribute to her dear friend and colleague Paul Goggins, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, who had had been a strong campaigner for the rights of mesothelioma victims, and who died on Tuesday night.

Mesothelioma is a long-tail disease – which means people exposed to asbestos decades ago are only now finding out the consequences of their employers’ negligence.

Following diagnosis, most victims have only about nine months to live.

Approximately 2,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year, and many victims live in former industrial areas such as Manchester, Liverpool and the North East.

The Mesothelioma Bill, which secures a measure of compensation for mesothelioma victims who can’t trace an employer or an employer’s insurer, was passed by Parliament on January 7 and will become law later this year.

Ms Green, who is Labour’s lead spokesperson on the matter, welcomes the Bill but is concerned that the law does not go far enough to offer justice to people living with the effects of mesothelioma.

The Government’s payment system which was passed into law means successful applicants will only receive 75 per cent of the average compensation compared with claimants of the same age who are able to pursue successful claims where an employer or insurer can be traced – meaning that sufferers are forced to pay a high penalty because they can’t trace their employer or employer’s insurer.

An amendment to the Bill, which Ms Green supported, would have increased the rate of payments for victims to 80 per cent, giving an extra £6,200 to mesothelioma victims and their families, but was voted against in the Commons, with a majority of Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs opposing it.

Further Labour amendments which would have put back the start date of the scheme, offering compensation to 700 more victims, were also voted against.

Ms Green said: “While its good news that a law has been passed to get a compensation scheme up and running, mesothelioma victims and their families deserve better than this.

“I will continue to fight for justice for mesothelioma victims and their families.”