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.