A 10-minute Private Members Bill was approved in the House of Commons yesterday, paving the way for a UK national register of the presence of asbestos in commercial buildings. The second reading is scheduled for 24th November.
Campaigners are calling it a landmark moment in the long road to changing the way the UK deals with asbestos. According to some estimates, as many as 1.5 million public buildings built before 2000 may contain asbestos, including schools and hospitals.
Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole, presented the 10-minute Bill to the House, thanking Mesothelioma UK for its work in drafting it.
He said he knew the catastrophic impact of asbestos from personal experience and in his role as MP for his constituency in Yorkshire. He told the Commons: 'I represent an area with many former steelworkers, power station workers, dockers and a few miners, so respiratory industrial disease is an issue that I know well, including from my close family.
'Increasingly, the disease is not restricted to roles that involved directly installing material with asbestos; it also affects those who work in buildings with asbestos, such as teachers. Indeed, teachers are more likely to die from mesothelioma than the general public.'
Mesothelioma UK is lobbying the Government for a central register to show where all the asbestos is and in what condition it is.
The charity is also asking for a timeframe for the safe removal of asbestos, prioritising high-risk settings such as schools and hospitals.
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