School Buildings (Asbestos)

Portfolio Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 16 May 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Marie McNair Marie McNair Scottish National Party 2:00, 16 May 2024

To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities regarding the management of asbestos within school buildings. (S6O-03440)

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

Local authorities have statutory responsibility for the control and management of asbestos in their schools. However, the Scottish Government has recently engaged with COSLA and local authorities on this matter. For example, through our recent engagement about the Health and Safety Executive’s “Asbestos—Your Duty” campaign, we flagged the risk of asbestos and raised awareness of the legal duty to manage those risks.

I should also highlight that health and safety is not devolved to the Scottish Government, and the Health and Safety Executive has United Kingdom-wide responsibility for enforcement of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Photo of Marie McNair Marie McNair Scottish National Party

One of my constituents, who is 32, was diagnosed with mesothelioma at 30 years of age. She believes that that is because she was exposed to asbestos in the built environment and she strongly suspects that it was from the school that she attended in Clydebank. My constituent is a member of the Clydebank Asbestos Group, which supports the phased removal of asbestos from the school estate.

Will the cabinet secretary agree to meet me and campaigners, including the Clydebank Asbestos Group? The meeting will be an opportunity to hear the concerns about the presence of asbestos in schools, and representatives of COSLA should also be invited to attend.

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

I thank Marie McNair for raising a hugely important point. Thanks to investment from this Government, the school estate in Scotland has improved, from around 60 per cent of schools being in good or satisfactory condition to, today, more than 90 per cent of schools being in good or satisfactory condition.

However, I very much recognise the challenge that the member has presented. I know that the Clydebank Asbestos Group helped to provide support, advice and information to victims of asbestos, such as the member’s constituent, and to their families. I would be more than happy to meet the member and her constituent to discuss the matter in more detail.