Insurers could be forced to contribute to a scheme to compensate asbestosis sufferers under a government review of industrial injuries compensation.

The government announ-ced its review of the system of compensating those injured in workplace accidents last month. Last week, Work and Pensions minister Anne McGuire did not rule out a scheme for compensating mesothelioma victims financed by insurers.

"I appreciate [the desire] to have justice for those asbestos workers and their families. We will look at all ways in which we can make this happen," she said.

Insurers and the ABI reacted strongly against suggestions that they should be required to compensate mesothelioma victims where there is no legal duty to do so.

The concern is that insurers may be required to fund compensation to asbestosis victims where there was no insurance policy in place.

A spokesman for Norwich Union said such a proposal would be "unprecedented" and "unfair".

A spokeswoman for the DWP said it was too early to discuss in detail any proposals for reform.

She said the review would be "wide-ranging" with a discussion paper would be published in the summer.