Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole and chair of the Asbestos in Schools Group, has welcomed the publication of the Government Review on the Management of Asbestos in Schools, after questioning both Prime Minister David Cameron and William Hague, Leader of the House of Commons last week on its publication date.
In her question to the Prime Minister, Annette began by pointing out that 75 per cent of schools contain asbestos, with more than 20 teachers a year dying as a result. After recognising that children are particularly vulnerable from exposure, the Lib Dem MP pressed David Cameron on whether the Government Review on asbestos in schools would be published before Parliament is dissolved ahead of the general election.
In his response, the Prime Minister acknowledged the importance of the issue but failed to specify a date for publication, saying that the Review would be released in “due course.” Following a further question from Annette on the matter during Business of the House the next day, it was announced that the report would, in fact, be published that day. Leader of the House, William Hague, in response to Annette’s second oral question in two days, replied, “The Government are publishing the Review today. We have been working hard to prepare it, and we will place copies of it in the library.”
The publication of the Government Review last week marked an important moment in the ongoing campaign for safe asbestos management in schools. Annette welcomed the publication of the Government Review saying, “In 2010, I made a promise to the family of a teacher in my constituency who had lost her life to mesothelioma; I promised that I would do everything I could to tackle the issue.”
Annette has campaigned tirelessly over the past five years as chair of the Asbestos in Schools group; holding many meetings in Parliament and in the Department for Education, and asking dozens of parliamentary questions.
Annette went on to say, “At long last, the Government has published its Review of Policy into Asbestos Management in Schools. I believe this is a real step forward, bearing in mind that 75% of our schools contain asbestos. I would have liked the Review to have gone further but feel that with much more emphasis on awareness and responsibilities in all schools, including academies, our children will be better protected.”
Annette praised the proposal to scrutinise duty holders to ensure that asbestos management remains a priority in schools, and also the plan to implement strong and clear incentives to comply with asbestos regulations. The Mid Dorset and North Poole MP also particularly welcomed the Review’s pledge to improve the Government’s evidence base by using air sampling in schools.
The Minister of State for Schools, David Laws, released a written Ministerial Statement on 16 March confirming the publication of the Review. The Minister stressed the importance of asbestos management for the health and safety of school students and staff, before briefly explaining the Review’s content and how it signals an enhanced Governmental role in the management of asbestos in schools.