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Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has received from the Health and Safety Commission of the effects of different asbestos stripping techniques on worker mortality. 
Mrs. McGuire: Proposals for asbestos regulations made by the Health and Safety Commission to the Minister are supported by regulatory impact assessments and risk assessments. The risk assessment in the current HSC consultation document Proposals for Revised Asbestos Regulations and an approved code of practice (CD 205) includes estimates of asbestos-related worker deaths and takes account of a range of factors, including different types of work with asbestos.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what advice he has received from the Health and Safety Commission on the most effective dust suppression techniques available for removing asbestos; and if he will list the acceptable methods of asbestos removal in order of effectiveness as a dust suppressing technique; 
Mrs. McGuire: The Secretary of State has not received specific advice on dust suppression techniques, and circumstances in which dry stripping of asbestos containing materials is permissible. However, the current Approved Codes of Practice (ACOP) under the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002-Work with asbestos insulation, asbestos coating and asbestos insulating board (L28), and Work with asbestos which does not normally require a licence (L27) were approved by the Health and Safety Commission in 2002, with the consent of the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Under the regulations and ACOPs, employers are required to prevent exposure to asbestos and where this is not reasonably practicable, to reduce exposure to as low a level as reasonably practicable. When exposure can not be prevented, employers must chose a working method or combination of methods which reduce exposure to the lowest levels reasonably practicable and document these in the written risk assessment and plan of work.
Acceptable methods of asbestos removal and the effectiveness of dust suppression techniques will depend on a range of factors to be considered as part of the risk assessment for the job in hand. They include the type of asbestos material, its condition, and the amount to be removed. Often a combination of methods will be needed. Paragraphs 6774 of L28 (for work with
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licensed materials) and paragraphs 7476 of L27 (for work with non-licensed materials) set out methods for work with different types asbestos containing materials.
These paragraphs, and paragraph 29(f) of L28 also include references to dry stripping. Although they state that there may be some exceptional circumstances where dry stripping of licensable materials may be justifiable, the Health and Safety Executive has not encountered such circumstances.
Further guidance on reduced dust methods of working can be found in the Health and Safety Executive publication Controlled asbestos stripping techniques for work requiring a licence (HSG 189/1), and for work with non-licensable materials in Introduction to asbestos essentials: Comprehensive guidance on working with asbestos in the building maintenance and allied trades (HSG 213); Asbestos essentials task manual: task guidance sheets for the building maintenance and allied trades (HSG 210); and Working with asbestos cement (HSG189/2).
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which elements of the licensing requirements for contractors involved with the wet stripping of asbestos using equipment conforming to BSI PAS 611:2004 are mandatory. 
Mrs. McGuire: The standard conditions attached to licences issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 to asbestos removal companies for work with asbestos insulation, asbestos coating or asbestos insulating board include (a) fourteen days notice in writing to the appropriate enforcing authority of work to be undertaken; (b) that notice to include details of the work, including a suitable and sufficient written statement of the method of work to be used, and a suitable and sufficient written specification for the equipment for the protection and decontamination of those engaged in asbestos work.
Where new wet injection equipment is purchased, HSE has advised contractors that it should comply with BSI publicly available specification (PAS) 60 equipment used in the controlled removal of asbestos containing materials, Part 1 controlled wetting of asbestos containing materials-specification. However, the PAS is not a mandatory standard.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have died of an asbestos-related illness in (a) Tamworth constituency, (b) Staffordshire and (c) the West Midlands in each year since 1997. 
Mrs. McGuire: Death statistics for mesothelioma and asbestosis are not held in a form which allows data for individual parliamentary constituencies to be readily available. However, in the tables that follow figures for the smaller area of Tamworth local authority are provided.
|Tamworth local authority||Staffordshire||West Midlands|
Lung cancer deaths caused by asbestos are clinically indistinguishable from those caused by other agents such as tobacco smoke. It is estimated that about the same number of lung cancer deaths due to asbestos occur each year as mesothelioma deaths.
|Tamworth local authority||Staffordshire||West Midlands|
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning what steps the Department is taking to help people with Asperger's syndrome in Swindon into employment. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
There are no arrangements that are specific to Swindon to help customers with Asperger's syndrome into employment. However, all customers with Asperger's syndrome are dealt with on an individual basis. If required, in addition to the range of support offered to all our customers, they can access further support from specialist advisers such as Disability Employment Advisers or Specialist Incapacity Benefit Advisers. These specialist advisers meet with the customer and work alongside other support workers or their GP to agree a plan of action tailored to their individual needs to progress them towards employment.
If deemed necessary the customer can also be referred to specialist partner organisations who deliver a variety of provision including Work Preparation, WORKSTEP and New Deal for Disabled People, for additional support. This could include personal development, work placements, work experience and help with applying for work, including interview support.
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