AT long, long last the Government has listened. Yesterday Energy Minister Helen Liddell announced that procedures would be speeded up so that miners with lung diseases will receive their compensation more quickly.

Mrs Liddell admitted that her patience with the snail's pace of processing the 110,000 claims - only a handful paid out in 17 months - was now "exhausted". Quite right too, although as the miners have been dying at a rate of 200 a month, many lives will have been extinguished without seeing any of the money to which the Government agreed they were entitled.

We hope Mrs Liddell will forgive us for not saying congratulations to her just yet, because this case has been characterised by one fast track followed by another review culminating in a pilot scheme. The day for congratulations will be the day that the miners and their families start receiving their money.

Congratulations are due now, though, to Pat Dalglish. Like Darlington mother Pat Gibson whose campaigning caused the Government to amend its year and a day murder law, Mrs Dalglish has been tirelessly working for the miners. She was there yesterday when Mrs Liddell made her announcement.

Mrs Dalglish's motivation has been her father, Thomas, who died in December without receiving a penny despite filling in all the forms.

She explained: "I can't let my dad down - he told me to keep fighting after he was gone. It is no longer about money now - it is the principle. Even if he had lived, dad knew the money would never buy him a pair of lungs."

Those sentences also explain why The Northern Echo took up this cause. It was not solely to gain money - although we hope it will ease the last years of a few lives - but it was to gain a mark of recognition for those men who had given their lives to working in deplorable conditions without any great financial reward. It was very similar to the reasons we embarked upon the campaign to win the Aycliffe Angels recognition for their part in the last war.

The money should start flowing as soon as is practically possible, and we hope that tomorrow marks a new chapter in the life of the current Labour Government. It could be the day that the Government really did start listening to the concerns of the ordinary person whose voice is too often lost.