To ask the hon. Member for Mole Valley representing the House of Commons Commission, what recent progress has been made on the operation of Parliament's Asbestos Management Plan; and if he will make a statement.
9 June 2015
Owing to its historic nature, asbestos deposits are present within the Palace of Westminster. The Parliamentary Estates Directorate operates an Asbestos Management Plan which it uses to safely manage asbestos across the whole of the parliamentary estate, in full compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
During the successful installation of new, modern equipment in the plant room that supplies the Chamber and adjacent offices, a series of asbestos reassurance tests have been carried out. Traces of asbestos were recently found in the ventilation trunking, but extensive sampling at the vents has provided very high confidence that it is not becoming airborne.
Professor R J Willey, Managing Director of ACS Physical Risk Control Ltd has undertaken an urgent review of the evidence, and concluded: “It is my considered Opinion that, after the discovery, proper procedures were timeously followed. Detailed investigation of the results of air tests taken, over a considerable period following the discovery, show quite conclusively that there was negligible risk to any persons supplied with air from the duct system. Providing current conditions are maintained, there will be negligible risk to any persons supplied with air in the future from the duct system.”
The Commission and the House authorities regard the safety of Members, staff and the visiting public as their highest priority. Steps have therefore been taken to ensure that the ventilation system is not disturbed in any way. Steps will also be taken to eradicate the asbestos in the trunking by the end of 2015, but in the meantime we are content with this authoritative advice that there is no reason to stop using the Chamber, or the adjacent offices and spaces.