§ John Mann
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action is being taken against claim handling companies acting as intermediaries between solicitors and miners with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vibration white finger who charge up to 25 per cent. of the final award. 
§ Nigel Griffiths
With regard to the work of claim handling agents, we have included in all our publicity material, both in the national and regional press and the Department's miners newsletter, references to the fact there should be no need for any organisations processing claims to charge claimants a fee or deduct any compensation and that if any claim handling firm suggests other arrangements claimants should seek advice elsewhere.
The Department is aware of the concerns raised about the work of claim handling companies and Lord Falconer, as Constitutional Affairs Secretary, launched a wide-ranging independent review of the regulation of the legal services market in July last year. The review is due to report by the end of 2004 and a consultation document will be issued shortly.