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Cenric Clement-Evans gives evidence to the Petitions Committee

Petitions Committee, 21/10/2015

 

 

http://www.righttoknowasbestos.org

Cenric Clement-Evans was invited to the Petitions Committee meeting, that took place at the Senedd yesterday for an evidence session to support the petition calling for a database of asbestos in schoolls submitted by the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools, Wales campaign. 

Click here to view the evidence session starts at 58 minutes into the session at agenda item 4. 

 

Petitions Committee 20thOctober 2015. 

Comment from, Michael Lees MBE

 

21st October 2015

For the last three years Cenric Clement-Evans has raised a number of serious issues concerned with the Welsh Government’s handling of asbestos in Welsh schools. He has firmly and persistently highlighted those issues with the Education Minister, the Department for Education and Skills and with the Petitions Committee. His ‘Right to know’ petition and the supporting written evidence was first considered by the committee in December 2013, and yesterday, 20th October 2015, he gave oral evidence in answer to the committee members’ questions. Mr Clement- Evans’ replies were well researched, logical and reasoned.

The crucial point raised by Mr Clement-Evans is that the Welsh Government will not accept that they are ultimately responsible for asbestos policy in Welsh schools, rather they claim that the responsibility has not been devolved and it is that of HSE. That line was again confirmed yesterday by the Labour member of the committee, despite the fact that Mr Clement-Evans has provided written evidence that the Schools Minister in the Westminster Government and the HSE Acting Chief Executive have stated that the responsibility is that of the Welsh Government.

Mr Clement-Evans has also proposed that the Welsh Government needs to establish an advisory committee to improve the asbestos management in Welsh schools on the lines of the DfE committee that considers the issues in English schools. However the Welsh Education Minister has indicated that he will not establish a separate committee but instead is content to accept the decisions of the Westminster committee.

Mr Clement –Evans spoke passionately that the whole concept of devolution was undermined when the Welsh Government were willing to accept the decisions of a DfE committee on which they had no representation and one which had no remit for the safety of staff and children in Welsh schools. In addition, he argued, that the whole issue of asbestos in Welsh school had dropped down the ‘devolution gap’ because the Welsh Government had abdicated their responsibilities for asbestos policy in Welsh schools to the HSE, a non-departmental public body in the Westminster Government whose remit is to advise and regulate but is not to make policy.

Mr Clement-Evans’ evidence was heartfelt, measured and compelling.  I have no doubt that it will make a significant difference and was a major step forward in making Welsh schools safe from the dangers of asbestos.

 

 

 

Click here to view the evidence session