Local MP calls on government to keep the ban on asbestos amid fears of relaxation of restrictions in the event of a US trade deal
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03 Apr 2020
Greenwood MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is
calling on the government to make a firm commitment to maintain the ban
on asbestos after the Brexit transition period comes
to an end on 31 December 2020 and as the UK negotiates trade deals with
government has committed in recent weeks to maintaining a “high level of
protection of human health and the environment” post-Brexit, there has
been widespread concern among campaign groups
that this may change in the future, particularly when the UK comes to
negotiate trade deals with other countries including the USA where
regulations allow use of products containing asbestos – such as certain
car parts like clutches and brakes, building materials
like roofing felt, tiles and cement products, heat-resistant fabrics,
packaging, gaskets and coatings.
It was also
reported last month that, in 2019 the US Food and Drug Administration
confirmed that asbestos had been found in several cosmetic products,
including make-up marketed at children, prompting
campaigners to warn that a UK trade deal with the US could see the
relaxation of stringent laws prohibiting the use of dangerous
ingredients in imported cosmetics.
used widely in buildings and in industry after World War II up until the
mid-1980s. As a result it has and continues to affect a very wide range
of people, particularly those working in
ship building, construction, electrical and heating engineering,
firefighting and those employed in public buildings, such as teachers.
The impact on individuals and families is very often devastating.
Greenwood is also asking the government to rule out any further cuts to
the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which is responsible for enforcing
compliance with asbestos-related health and safety
legislation. The agency will receive around £100 million less from the
DWP in 2020-21 than it did in 2009-10 and saw its number of inspectors
reduced by 25% between 2010 and 2016.
2019, the HSE, which sits under the Department for Work and Pensions,
reported that there are currently over 5,000 asbestos-related disease
deaths per year in the UK, although this is expected
to decline over the next decade and beyond. People typically affected
include those working in ship building, fire fighting, electricians and
Margaret Greenwood MP said:
of asbestos are all too clear. The impact of asbestos-related diseases
can be devastating for individuals and their families.That is why I am
calling on the government to maintain the ban
“We should not
be lowering standards once we come to do trade deals with other
countries, like the United States, that do not have the same
restrictions on asbestos that we do in the UK.
“It is vital
that the ban on the manufacture and supply of all asbestos products in
the UK and the ban on its importation is kept in place.
written to the Secretary of State calling on her to maintain the ban and
urging her to stress the importance of this with her colleagues in the
Department for International Trade.
concerned that any reduction in standards either here in the UK or as a
result of trade deals could put more lives at risk from asbestos-related
"I would like
to pay tribute to the Merseyside Asbestos Victim Support Group for the
great work that they do in lobbying on this issue.
"The government must maintain the ban on asbestos."