§ Mr. Barry Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects the European Economic Community directive on asbestos—dangerous substances—to become operative; and if he will make a statement on his Department's assessment of progress towards the development and use of asbestos substitutes.
§ Mr. Waddington
It is not possible at this stage to say exactly when the proposed directive might be adopted. There will be further discussion between member States under the Belgian Presidency in the new year, which will, I hope, build on the encouraging progress made so far.
The Government have encouraged the replacement of asbestos by other suitable substances where such substitution has been reasonably practicable. In doing so we have taken account of current knowledge of the health risks, suitability in production and performance of the substitutes and the costs involved.
The Government welcome the efforts made by industry and research institutes to develop substitutes. We believe that advances are being made and that planned substitution is proceeding with due regard to the potential health risks of substitute materials.