I WAS pleased recently to hold a member’s debate at Holyrood to raise awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.

Everyone in Clydebank knows just how damaging asbestos has been and continues to be to our community.

I would like to pay tribute to all the victims of asbestos-related illness and thank local organisations such as Clydebank Asbestos Group for the support they provide.

During my speech to the Scottish Parliament, I took the opportunity to highlight two areas that need urgent consideration.

Firstly, asbestos has to be eradicated from the built environment. There has been an emergence of people as young as 30 with no links to heavy industry being diagnosed with mesothelioma – a cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure.

This is in addition to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting that some young teachers have also, unfortunately, had the same diagnosis.

The conclusion is that these were caused by asbestos exposure in their schools. This is unacceptable.

I am calling for a programme of phased asbestos removal from all public buildings, starting with our schools.

I have called on the Scottish Government to work with CoSLA and the HSE to bring this to fruition.

Clydebank was once known as the mesothelioma capital of Europe. This is a horrible description and one that, for us, had real people, family, and loved ones behind each number.

Our industrial history is the main reason for this unwanted legacy but it is vital that we campaign now to remove asbestos from public buildings to help minimise further exposure.

The second issue that remains a complete injustice is that of compensation.

There are countless victims out there who have not got the compensation they deserve because of the three-year time bar.

This law means that, in some cases, victims only have three years from their first asbestos-related diagnosis to claim compensation.

The nature of these illnesses makes this time bar totally unjust.

After raising this issue in the Scottish Parliament with the Justice Minister, I am pleased to have secured a commitment from her to meet with campaigners.

It is so important that we work at speed during this parliamentary term to address this wrong.

As we continue this fight, we must recognise and thank local campaign groups, researchers, and charities who act with resolute dedication for better outcomes.

We can thank them most effectively by acting where we can and standing with them in their pursuit of truth and justice.