The insurance industry and the government have been slammed by a top parliamentary committee over their handling of the miners' compensation scheme.

The House of Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee said the design of the scheme's handling procedures had "encouraged" the involvement of claims farmers in the process.

"We were told that many [miners] had signed up to various arrangements whereby additional fees were being charged or a proportion of a settlement could be deducted by the solicitor, even though solicitors were paid by the DTI," said the committee's report.

It went on to say that ministers had been forced to write to solicitors to confirm that extra fees should not have been charged and should be repaid.

The fast-track compensation scheme was set up in February this year to deal with claims for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vibration white finger.

The Claims Standards Council (CSC) called on the DTI to re-examine the fast-track compensation scheme.

A spokesman said: "A fast-track scheme is needed but the DTI has not looked properly at how the scheme has opened up the process to claims companies.

"Other companies are now involved in the process and they are causing problems."

He said the CSC had received "hundreds" of complaints from miners over the conduct of claims management firms.