Renovation work at the Houses of Parliament was halted after a possible asbestos discovery, HuffPost UK can reveal.
Up to nine members of parliamentary staff and even more contractors may have been exposed to the potentially-deadly substance between October and November last year.
Parliamentary authorities confirmed that they were working with the Health and Safety Executive following an “incident” of possible exposure.
They also confirmed they temporarily paused construction projects on site for up to three days “as a precaution” so they could brief staff.
A spokesperson for the House of Commons said: “The House is currently working with our contractors, supply chain and the HSE 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.”
It is understood the incident took place as part of work commissioned by the Parliamentary authorities in the Speaker’s apartments.
The projects have since resumed - including the works on the Speaker’s apartment. It is understood those affected are all being contacted.
It comes as the Palace of Westminster is set to undergo a multi-billion pound restoration and renewal project. It is thought the plan could spiral to £20 billion – five times original estimates.
The Grade I listed building is riddled with asbestos, leaking pipes and costs millions every year to maintain.
A 2016 report by a joint committee of MPs warned of the need to act “speedily” to carry out an extensive renovation of the building or risk either “a sudden, catastrophic failure or that small, incremental failures might make the building uninhabitable”.
A Health and Safety Executive spokesperson said: “HSE is aware and investigating.”