Passing of Paul Goggins & Mesothelioma Bill

(January 08, 2014)

Steve at Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group 1

It is with great sadness that Paul Goggins, the Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, passed away on the evening of January 7th 2014.

Paul devoted his life to protecting the vulnerable and fighting political causes that really mattered to the day-to-day lives of ordinary people across Great Britain.

He was a fearless campaigner with a unique ability to bring people from across the political spectrum together on often complex and controversial issues.

Indeed, as Ed Miliband said this morning, “Paul was a man of deep faith whose commitment and strong values shone through everything he did. As a social worker, councillor, MP and Minister, attending to the needs of the most disadvantaged was always at the core of his particularly thoughtful and dedicated service. He was held in great affection by the people of Northern Ireland for his real understanding of the challenges they faced in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement”.

The Labour Party has lost a true champion and British politics has lost an incredible public servant who came into politics for all the right reasons.

Yesterday, before Paul passed away, Labour MPs showed solidarity with him as we moved amendments to the Mesothelioma Bill which he had been instrumental in both campaigning for and shaping.

It was a testament to how respected he was across the House, that it was in fact a Conservative MP, Tracey Crouch, who moved the amendment in Paul’s name.

Paul wanted the law to stipulate that greater monies and emphasis must be placed on research into mesothelioma. In the modern era – when the world’s crusade against cancer is at its most fierce – it remains a source of deep regret that the advances in asbestos-related cancer research are strides behind that of other aspects of this deadly disease.

I couldn’t have agreed with Paul more. That’s why yesterday, in my short intervention, I made the following points:

“Mr Speaker, new clause 2 on the importance of research was tabled by my right hon. Friend Paul Goggins, who sadly cannot be with us today to speak to it.

“I am sure that the very best wishes of the whole House for a speedy and full recovery will be relayed to his family by my right hon. Friend Andy Burnham.

“I thank Tracey Crouch for her contribution today and the work she has done through the all-party group with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East.

“We wanted to ensure that my right hon. Friend’s amendments were debated in the House and taken forward due to the importance of this issue. He worked tirelessly on behalf of his and all of our constituents on this important issue, which still blights the lives of thousands of people.

“There remains no cure for mesothelioma, but it is vital that research continues to offer hope to those still suffering from asbestos-related diseases. It is also essential that sufferers receive the maximum possible compensation, and that it is not reduced by having to pay legal fees. My right hon. Friend sought to improve this proposal and I intend to press it to a vote.

“New clause 2 seeks to ensure that a small part of the levy imposed on the insurance industry—no more than 1% of the total claim bill—is used to fund additional research into mesothelioma.

“Some 2,400 people a year die from the disease, and it is estimated that approximately 56,000 to 60,000 people, as the hon. Lady said, will die from this terrible disease in the next 30 years unless a cure is found.

“In the other place, the Government continually suggested that they were sympathetic, but they did not provide a guarantee to support and implement a scheme to fund mesothelioma research on a sustainable basis. That is why my right hon. Friend is so determined to see a small proportion of the levy used for research purposes.

“As I said at the beginning, my right hon. Friend is a tireless campaigner for mesothelioma victims. I hope this House will feel able to support these important amendments in my right hon. Friend’s name”.

In Paul’s name, the fight to ensure compensation for mesothelioma sufferers and research into the disease, will go on.

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