HC Deb 28 February 1992 vol 204 c643W
Mr. Ken Hargreaves

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has completed the consultation on the policy of banning or discouraging all uses of asbestos as set out in the Government's White Paper, "This Common Inheritance—The First Year Report"; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier

In September 1991 it was announced in the White Paper "This Common Inheritance—The First Year Report" that the Government were consulting ona policy of banning or discouraging all uses of asbestos, expect for a number of existing uses were detailed risk assessment has shown that suitable substitutes are either not available or do not offer a materially better option in safety or other terms". Subsequently, the European Commission announced that it would propose a draft directive, to ban remaining types of asbestos, with exemptions for some uses of chrysotile (white asbestos).

Consultations on the proposed policy and the expected directive have involved the Department of Trade and Industry, the Health and Safety Executive, the Department of the Environment's advisory committee on hazardous substances, the Confederation of British Industry and the asbestos industry. The consultation is now complete.

In negotiating the expected draft directive, the Government's policy will be that remaining uses of asbestos should be limited to essential cases where less hazardous substitutes are not yet available, based on assessment of risks and costs during production, use and disposal. The Government's aim is to see this policy introduced Community-wide, as part of their strategy to assess, and where possible reduce, the potential health and environmental impacts of hazardous substances.

The existing legislation, which prohibits the most dangerous types and uses of asbestos and controls work activities involving asbestos and disposal of asbestos, will remain. There will be no requirement to remove and dispose of asbestos materials already in place, such as in buildings (for example as insulation), in cars (for example, as brake pads) or in industrial situations (for example, as seals or gaskets). The Government advise that asbestos materials in poor condition should be removed, but that materials in good condition should remain in place. Further detailed advice is available in the Department of the Environment's booklet "Asbestos Materials in Buildings" which is available from HMSO.