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Asbestos Products

Volume 518: debated on Wednesday 17 November 2010

8. What steps his Department is taking to ensure that funds allocated for development programmes by his Department are not used to purchase imported asbestos products. (24343)

Asbestos is banned in 52 countries, including in the EU and the UK. We are totally opposed to its use anywhere, and would deplore its supply to developing countries. We are not aware that DFID funds have been spent on asbestos products, and we would take urgent action, should we be so advised.

I thank the Minister for that response, but can he assure the House that UK assistance to improve health standards in developing countries is not compromised by asbestos mining in Quebec? He may be aware of the multimillion dollar guarantee for development in Quebec, which might mean millions of tonnes of asbestos being dumped on unsuspecting populations in the years to come, with more than 4,000 people killed a year.

I note that the hon. Gentleman has campaigned tirelessly on asbestos and pleural plaques, and I studied his debate on the subject in Westminster Hall last year. I understand that Canadian exportation of asbestos is a cause for concern, and I will pass the issue he raises to my colleagues in the Foreign Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. From my Department’s point of view, we will take all necessary steps to ensure that we do not use dangerous asbestos products anywhere in the world.