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South Africa (Asbestos Mines)

Volume 14: debated on Monday 30 November 1981

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asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) if he will instruct the labour attaché in the British Embassy in Pretoria to provide a full report on conditions in the asbestos mines operated in South Africa by British companies or their subsidiaries in the light of the European Economic Community code of conduct for companies in South Africa, and to publish the findings of the report;(2) if he will ask the labour attaché in the British Embassy in Pretoria to inquire into the number of cases of asbestosis and related diseases among workers from asbestos mines operated by British companies in South Africa, in the light of the provisions regarding medical care of the European Economic Community code of conduct for companies in South Africa;(3) if he will instruct the labour attaché in the British Embassy in Pretoria to discuss with British companies or their subsidiaries operating asbestos mines in South Africa the health, safety and welfare standards of the workers in those mines in the light of the European Economic Community code of conduct for companies in South Africa and to report back on the outcome of these discussions.

There is now only one British company involved in asbestos mining in South Africa. It operates under South African health and safety laws and the South African authorities are responsible for applying them and dealing with any breaches. We have asked the embassy in Pretoria to comment on recent allegations concerning asbestos mining by British subsidiaries in South Africa.