The Chester Street asbestos saga rolls on another week. While thousands of former shipyard workers continue to wait for the settlement of their outstanding claims, the government and the insurance industry seem engaged in a game of mutual buck-passing.

The Association of British Insurers says that, on the one hand, it will fulfil its obligations under the Policyholders Protection Act. But on the other, it says it is unreasonable for insurers to shoulder all of Chester Street's debts.

Politicians insist that insurers should pick up the bill for Chester Street's liabilities.

Meanwhile, the Financial Services Authority and the Treasury are keeping a low profile on the issue.

This quibbling needs to stop. Apart from prolonging the victims' agony, the poor publicity is damaging to both insurers and the government.

Perhaps the looming election will focus minds and encourage all parties to sit down and work out a satisfactory settlement.