It’s Not Just The Tories

When Tony Blair came to power in 1997, he continued with the court case against retired miners or their widows fighting for compensation under the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) scheme. The Labour Government lost this battle in the courts against the NACODS union but not until they had put a lot of time and energy into a long-drawn out and costly legal battle. When the compensation scheme eventually went ahead, it was beset with delays. Back in 2010, my office found that 17,894 former miners in England, Scotland and Wales who lodged a claim while alive, died before their COPD claim was settled. In the Rhondda, the constituency I now represent, there was the highest number of miners in Wales of any constituency – 317 in all – who were alive to lodge a claim but died before they could make use of the compensation they were entitled to after years of ill-health. Before the scheme, many women lost their husbands young to the coal dust but widows were left to just get on with life with little support from the government. My grandmother was one such widow after my grandfather died from pneumoconiosis. He was just 47.

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