Potential £28bn in claims hangs in the balance as insurers are forced to wait months for decision

Insurers have been left in limbo over pleural plaques after the Government delayed any decision on compensation until after the parliamentary recess.

Insurers will have to wait until after 21 October, when MPs’ holidays end.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who promised a decision before last Tuesday’s recess for the summer, failed to give a reason why the decision had been delayed.

Speaking in the House of Commons (pictured right), he said: “The Government will give further consideration to the issue of compensation for people diagnosed with pleural plaques before publishing a final response after the recess.

“In addition, we are actively considering measures to make the United Kingdom a global leader in the search for the alleviation, prevention and cure of asbestos-related diseases and to help speed up compensation claims for those who develop diseases like mesothelioma.

“This latter includes examination of the process for tracking and tracing employment and insurance records, as well as looking at the support given to individuals who are unable to trace such records."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “It has also been important to look beyond the issue of pleural plaques itself to consider how people who have been exposed to asbestos can be supported much more widely.

“We are actively considering all these issues to be in a position to publish a final response after the summer recess.”

An ABI spokesman said the organisation would work with the government, although it would continue to lobby against making plaques compensatable, in line with the 2007 Law Lords judgment.

Compensation for pleural plaques – benign scarring on the lungs caused by asbestos exposure – could cost insurers up to £28bn.