Parliament: Asbestos:Written question - HL466

Asked on: 15 June 2015
The Lord Chairman of Committees
Parliament: Asbestos
To ask the Chairman of Committees what assessment has been made of the levels of asbestos throughout the Palace of Westminster and the parliamentary estate; what is the policy regarding disturbing it, leaving it in place, or removing it; and what advice has been taken about the dangers of asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, to those involved in repair and construction work and those working in areas where asbestos has been removed or disturbed.
Answered by: Lord Sewel
Answered on: 29 June 2015

It is difficult to estimate the amount of asbestos that is present in the Palace of Westminster and on the parliamentary estate because asbestos materials of various types have been widely used (often concealed in ducts and voids, and buried in the fabric of the building) over the years. Before the dangers of asbestos were known it was used extensively in building works due to its strength and resistive properties. Extensive surveying has been undertaken to inform Parliament’s management of asbestos and robust controls are in place to cover checking for the presence of asbestos and the safe execution of works.

Parliament’s Asbestos Management Plan complies with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and follows Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance. Risks associated with asbestos-containing materials are managed in line with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The plan is reviewed annually and has been independently audited.

Each presence of asbestos is judged for removal or management in situ on its own merits, in line with best practice and HSE guidance. All staff in the Parliamentary Estates Directorate undergo mandatory training in asbestos management which provides information and advice about the dangers of asbestos, including asbestos-related diseases. Contractors and their staff are also required to undertake this training, or to provide evidence that they have done equivalent training. The removal of asbestos would be part of the minimum outcome of the Palace Restoration and Renewal Programme and is therefore addressed in all the scenarios that are described in the recent Independent Options Appraisal.

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