Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Secretary of State for Education
(1) what process will be followed in the event that a former pupil or non-employee from an academy or free school develops mesothelioma and makes a claim against the school; and who would be liable for any costs;
(2) whether pupils and non-employees are covered for public liability asbestos exposure risks in academies and free schools.
Nick Gibb (Minister of State (Schools), Education; Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, Conservative)
Academies and free schools are autonomous institutions and, as such, are responsible for making their own arrangements for insurance. The Department does not maintain central records of the insurance coverage in place. Discussions with insurers have however indicated that there is a general asbestos exclusion for public liability insurance.
The Secretary of State for Education, my right hon. Friend Michael Gove, is not legally responsible for any compensation awarded, and nor is he bound by the terms of the funding agreement to compensate an academy for any such liability. However, the Department for Education would work with any affected academy or free school to ensure that it remained financially secure and the education of its pupils was not compromised.