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Schools: Asbestos

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many schools have been found to contain hazardous asbestos in the last 12 months; in how many of those schools all asbestos has been removed; at what cost; and what assessment has been made of the health of (a) teachers and (b) pupils attending schools where asbestos has been found. (291622)

During any major refurbishment project, the Department expects those responsible to remove hazardous asbestos and asbestos likely to be disturbed. Outside major projects, periodic asbestos surveys identify Asbestos Containing Materials that are likely to deteriorate and we expect them to be removed or encapsulated.

There is no requirement for routine reports of the condition of asbestos containing materials; for each public building there is an individual with specific statutory duties related to asbestos but routine reporting is not one of those duties. So, data are not available on the number of schools found to contain hazardous asbestos in the last 12 months.

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister gave a commitment to find out more about local authority management of asbestos.

In September 2008 DCSF and HSE sought to determine, by questionnaire, how asbestos is being managed in system-built schools.

Initial evaluation of the responses is complete. It has highlighted the need for further investigation and follow-up action. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) officials will discuss with the Department in November how to take this forward.