§ Lord Avebury
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What proposals have been made by the European Commission to amend the existing asbestos directive; what comments have been made by the United Kingdom Health and Safety Commission on those proposals; and what is their policy on amending the directive. [HL2182]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty):
Member states of the European Union voted on an EC proposal to restrict further the marketing and use of white asbestos yesterday. The UK voted in favour. I am glad to say that the proposal was passed by 13 votes to two. It has now been passed to European Commissioners for formal adoption. The proposal would ban white asbestos from 1 January 2005 with an exemption for one specialised use. Member states will also be able to implement domestic legislation before 2005 if they wish; the Health and Safety Commission has already consulted on introducing a ban before 2005 and I look forward to its proposals.
Separately, the Council of Ministers last year, at the instigation of the UK presidency, concluded that the Asbestos Worker Protection directive should be reviewed and refocused onto those workers most likely, inadvertently, to come into contact with asbestos during the course of their work. The European Commission (EC) has started work on its proposals and the UK is playing an active part in discussion.