Thompsons Solicitors welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement that a decision on pleural plaques will be made when Parliament resumes after the Easter recess.

During Prime Minister’s Questions Prime Minister Gordon Brown was asked (by Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn) what he planned to do to end the compensation injustice for pleural plaques sufferers.

The PM said: “Asbestosis is a terrible disease, and all those who suffer from it deserve the best of help from the public authorities. It is right that we look again at this as a result of legal actions that have been taken about the obligations of insurance companies. The Justice Secretary will make a statement on this when we return after Easter.”

Campaign to restore compensation to victims of pleural plaques

Although the announcement means a further wait for the thousands of pleural plaques sufferers across the country it is another step forward in the trade union led campaign to restore compensation to those with the condition.

It comes just a few weeks after a landmark vote in the Scottish parliament ensured pleural plaques sufferers in Scotland could continue to claim compensation.

Thousands of people across the rest of Britain have been denied compensation since a House of Lords decision in 2007.

Ian McFall, head of asbestos policy at national trade union firm Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The Prime Minister’s statement that an announcement will be made after Easter is welcome but it still leaves people with pleural plaques waiting longer than expected for the outcome."

He added: “People harmed by asbestos in England, Wales and Northern Ireland suffer no less than those in Scotland. Many were employed in the same industries and some even worked for the same employer as their counterparts in Scotland. It cannot be right that people here continue to be deprived of a legal remedy.”

Scarring of the lungs caused by asbestos

Pleural plaques are scarring of the lungs caused by asbestos. Although rarely causing symptoms they are associated with an increased risk of developing fatal conditions like mesothelioma.

Thousands of people across the UK have pleural plaques. Most were exposed to asbestos in the workplace at a time when employers were fully aware of the harmful effects and did nothing to protect workers.

Many people with pleural plaques tell of the worry and uncertainty it causes knowing that one day they may develop asbestos cancer.

They have been on tenterhooks since the House of Lords ended the right to compensation for pleural plaques in 2007 as a result of a test case brought by the insurance industry. They are now awaiting the outcome of a government consultation.