Labour MP Bill Esterson: Urgent action needs to be taken to ensu

Bill Esterson


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said urgent action needed to be taken to ensure that school pupils are not exposed to the dangerous effects of asbestos.

Bill, who sits on the Education Committee Select Committee in Parliament heard evidence from experts during a one-off session on the issue.

Experts included campaigners from the Asbestos in Schools Group and officers from the Health and Safety Executive.

Bill said: "We heard some shocking details about asbestos during the special Education Committee session.

"According to the experts, 75% of state schools contain asbestos. Which is a shocking statistic.

"There is some disagreement about what action needs to be taken. Should there be a rolling programme for asbestos removal from our schools, or should it be left undisturbed?

"Some experts say that if asbestos is already in place, it is perfectly safe if it is undisturbed.

"But with teachers pushing drawing pins into walls for displays and schools full of boisterous pupils, how can we be sure that our children and our school staff are not being exposed to the dangers of asbestos?

"One of the witnesses, whose wife died from an asbestos-related disease, told the committee that not enough is being done to remove the substance from schools. His wife died 12 years ago from a lung disease which was blamed on exposure to asbestos in classrooms.

"As a parent, this is an issue that concerns me greatly. It is an issue which must be addressed.

"The previous Labour Government, through the Building Schools for the Future programme, had introduced a rolling programme to rebuild lots of our schools, which in turn was dealing with the issue of asbestos-laden buildings. But the BSF programme was one of the first casualties when the Tories and Lib Dems came to power and programme was axed.

"We now need to look at other measures to deal with it."

Bill has previously called a Parliamentary debate to discuss the impact of legal aid reforms on mesothelioma suffers.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer which is commonly contracted by people who have worked in jobs where they inhaled asbestos or have been exposed to asbestos dust.

Bill said: "Through my work on campaigning for legal aid for mesothelioma sufferers, I have discovered how dangerous asbestos can be.

"The seriousness of asbestos cannot be overstated. Just one fibre could go into someone’s lung and lie dormant for many years, but when it becomes active there is no alternative, that person will die. There is no cure, no remission and no element of survival.

"That's why I was so shocked by the evidence presented to the Education Committee.

"Our schools must be a safe haven for our children. We need to ensure that our schools are totally safe and our children are not exposed to any potential dangers."



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