Asbestos horror warning as dozens working in UK Parliament may have been exposed

Asbestos: Animation shows how fibres can damage lung tissue

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Sources from inside the iconic London landmark say a possible exposure occurred while work was taking place in Speakers House, the official residence of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, in August. Reports suggest those potentially affected by the dangerous chemical substance are now in the process of being notified.

One official familiar with the maintenance of parliament told Politico it looked like “a huge failure of safety systems.”

A House of Commons spokesperson said: “The House is currently working with our contractors, supply chain and the Health and Safety Executive following an incident of possible asbestos exposure on the estate.

“A temporary pause in construction projects was implemented to ensure lessons learned from this incident are rapidly implemented.”

A previous report conducted in 2016 stated the home of British politics was “riddled with asbestos” and a “thorough renovation of the Palace of Westminster would allow this asbestos to be removed safely and more cost-effectively.”

The report, which followed a year-long inquiry by MPs and peers, recommended a “full decant” of MPs to another location while the outdated sewage, electrical and heating systems are replaced and asbestos removed.

However, plans for a wholesale restoration are currently in limbo as the Commons Commission — its managing body — wants to explore the option of MPs remaining on the estate while the work is carried out.

Recent work to the clock tower saw MPs and peers continue their work while maintenance took place.

With the highly delicate and dangerous work of removing the toxic substance now a priority, some have called to move the two houses to a temporary location while work is carried out.

However, this has been met with opposition.

Former Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg has expressed scepticism towards the idea of moving MPs off the estate, saying in an interview last month he is “cautious that some of the propaganda around the scheme may be over-egged”.

Mr Rees-Mogg, along with some Conservative MPs elected in 2019, has voiced concerns over the potential cost of restoration, which was originally estimated at £4 billion but is likely to exceed the sum.

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Already the cost of repairing the tower housing Big Ben, known officially as Elizabeth Tower, came in at nearly £80 million.

An extra £18.6 million was required over the initial budget as costs soared following the discovery of bomb damage, and more layers of asbestos in the 177-year-old structure.

The four clock dials on the outside of the tower contain a total of 1,296 individual pieces of glass, each of which needed to be replaced as part of the restoration work.

And 700 stone repairs have been needed – 300 more than the initial estimate – and every new piece of stone needs to be painstakingly re-carved.

SHOULD ALL HIGH PROFILE GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS BE CHECKED FOR ASBESTOS? SHOULD THIS BE EXTENDED TO PRIVATE HOMES? HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ASBESTOS IN YOUR HOME OR WORKPLACE? JOIN THE DEBATE IN OUR COMMENTS SECTION BY CLICKING HERE – EVERY VOICE MATTERS!

The Elizabeth Tower is often mistakenly called Big Ben by tourists and Londoners alike – but the latter name only refers to the bell it houses.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral.

There are six types, all of which are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals, each fibre being composed of many microscopic “fibrils” which can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes.

Asbestos causes mesothelioma, lung cancer and other cancers if ingested or inhaled into the body.

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