To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee (1) if asbestos products have been used in the works which have taken place in the Palace of Westminster since 20 July; and if he will make a statement;(2) what record is kept in the Palace of Westminster of the presence of asbestos; and if he will make a statement.
No asbestos products have been used in the works which have taken place in the Palace of Westminster during the summer recess. Like most older buildings, the Palace of Westminster contains some asbestos, which used to be incorporated for insulation purposes. Since it became known that exposure to asbestos dust can be dangerous, the Parliamentary Works Directorate, and its predecessors, has sought to follow strictly the guidelines and procedures laid down by the Health and Safety Executive. An asbestos register is maintained recording the locations both where asbestos is known to remain—usually because it is inaccessible—and from which it has been removed. Only firms on an approved list are used for asbestos removal work and the work is carried out in the approved manner.It is the practice to remove asbestos found when undertaking maintenance and other works services. For example, during the installation of the wiring for the parliamentary data and video network and fire alarm system this summer, a considerable amount of previously undiscovered asbestos was found and removed. The result is that all ceiling voids and under-floor spaces which have so far been cabled for the parliamentary data and video network are now free of asbestos. All the evidence available indicates that the asbestos had not been disturbed for some considerable time and should not therefore have presented any risks. However, a full record has been made of the discoveries and will be kept on the register.