"Polluter pays" principle invisible in asbestos horror

The deadly legacy left by an asbestos factory in Leeds which closed more than 30 years ago was highlighted during an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on 8 July. More than 30 people whose homes were contaminated by asbestos fall-out from the plant are now suffering from the lethal lung cancer mesothelioma. The Government promised to respond sympathetically to any local authority application for money to pay for grants to cover the costs of cleaning up the contaminated homes - but refused to change its policy of requiring grants to be means tested.

The debate was introduced by John Battle, Labour MP for Leeds West. This was his second attempt to persuade the Government to help mesothelioma victims in the Armley area. In 1988, he called for a public inquiry into the disease cluster, but was told by the then Minister of Employment that it was for local people to pursue the matter through the courts.

The cancer victims have no known history of exposure to asbestos, said Mr Battle, othe

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