Families who have suffered a bereavement caused by asbestos receive tens of thousands of pounds less in compensation if they live in England and Wales compared with those in Scotland, according to a report today.

Law firm Thompsons, which has launched a campaign to achieve compensation for all sufferers and their families irrespective of where in the UK they live, has called for a change in the law to bring payments into line with Scotland.

The level of compensation is set at £10,000 in England and Wales, but in Scotland payments of up to £30,000 have been made to widows, said the solicitors.

South of the border the amount of compensation paid to bereaved spouses is set at £10,000 by the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, but in Scotland the level of bereavement payments is decided by the courts.

Thompsons' head of asbestos policy, Ian McFall, said: "The law must be changed to ensure families in England and Wales are entitled to the same level of compensation as the equivalent family in Scotland. Any imbalance is unjust and cannot continue."

Describing £10,000 as a "derisory sum" for the grief caused by the death of a close family member, Mr McFall added: "Whole families suffer terribly when they lose a loved one to mesothelioma. They carry the emotional burden for the rest of their lives."

Last night, Des McNulty, a leading campaigner for victims of mesothelioma at the Scottish Parliament and the Labour candidate for Clydebank, said Scotland had worked hard to achieve the levels of compensation it awards.

He added: "There is a strong consensus in Scotland for proper levels of compensation for asbestos victims and I would hope that similar consideration is given to those suffering from this dreadful disease south of the border."

Mesothelioma affects nearly 90,000 people in the UK and it is estimated at least 2000 former workers on the Clyde suffer from the condition.

It is a form of cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs after exposure to asbestos. About1900 people die from it in the UK every year.