The European Commission's proposed maximum asbestos exposure levels must be cut in half, the European Parliament's employment and social affairs committee has voted.

The commission had proposed the levels in its new Asbestos Directive, but Liberal Democrat MEP Liz Lynne put forward an amendment that halved the exposure allowed.

The amendment effectively cuts by two-thirds the exposure to white asbestos currently permissible in the UK.

TUC general secretary John Monks said the vote was a major step forward in protecting repair, refurbishment and demolition workers.