HC Deb 28 July 1982 vol 28 cc593-4W
Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will seek legislation to provide that all employers and self-employed workers require a licence to employ anyone or work themselves on asbestos products; that such licences should be granted only by area approved boards representing trade unions, employers and the Health and Safety Executive, and that all licensees be obliged to provide regular adequate medical checks, and keep medical records.

Mr. Waddington

The Advisory Committee on Asbestos did not recommend licensing for work with all asbestos products. It restricted its recommendations for licensing to persons who carry out work on thermal and acoustic insulation and sprayed coatings on behalf of clients or for themselves on other persons' premises. The Health and Safety Commission published in 1981 a consultative document which made proposals for regulations to implement this recommendation. The ACA considered it neither necessary nor practicable to license all employers working with asbestos insulation, but the commission has not yet made a final decision on what regulatory proposals it will send to me.

In my view the granting of licences is a matter for the Health and Safety Executive as the enforcing authority. It would not be appropriate for licences to be granted by any other body.

Final decisions on licence conditions have yet to be made but in practice medical surveillance is already available on a voluntary basis to asbestos workers.

Mr. Litherland

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will set up an independent inquiry into the safety of the asbestos manufacturing industry with a mandate to report urgently.

Mr. Waddington

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the right hon. Member for Stoke on Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) on 27 July 1982.—[Vol. 28, c. 453–54.]