§ Dr. David Clark
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former miners in the South Shields constituency have(a) claimed and (b) received payments in compensation for (i) chronic bronchitis and emphysema and (ii) vibration white finger. 
§ Mr. Hain
In the area of South Shields (as defined by the postcodes NE3 and NE4, which encompass the South Shields constituency) IRISC, the Department's claims handlers have registered 728 claims in respect of compensation for respiratory disease and 1,049 claims in relation to vibration white finger, VWF. To date, there have been 156 individual payments totalling £600,000 in respect of respiratory disease and 348 individual payments in respect of VWF amounting to £2.5 million.
§ Mr. Hain
The Benefit Scheme administered by the DSS and the compensation scheme administered by this Department are two completely different schemes.
Industrial Industries Disablement Benefits (IIDB) are payable to people who are disabled as a result of an accident at work or are one of over 70 prescribed diseases known to be a risk of occupation. VWF is one of these prescribed diseases. Benefit is normally paid only in2W
respect of an assessment of 14 per cent. disability or more. Criteria for deciding claims are narrowly defined and set out in detail in legislation.
The DTI's compensation scheme is based on common law principles and negligent exposure to vibration must be substantiated before any payment is made. An assessment is made on the level of disability which is set out in a Handling Arrangement agreed between the Department and miners' solicitors.