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14 Mar 2003 : Column 495W—continued

Fairground Safety

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answers of 19 December 2002, Official Report, columns 999–1000W, on fairground safety, when the National Fairground Inspection Team was established; what its terms of reference are; how many members it has; to whom it reports; and what recommendations it has made since its establishment. [100770]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The National Fairground Inspection Team was established in April 2002.

The terms of reference and purpose of the National Fairground Inspection Team are to provide the operational contribution to the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE's) strategy and workplan for fairground safety. This involves inspection, investigation and other initiatives to address significant risks. It also secures compliance with health and safety law and improves safety management in the industry. The team provides a focus for fairground inspection and ensures continuity of expertise.

The team is made up of local inspectors from HSE's Field Operations Directorate (FOD) located at HSE offices throughout the country. There are currently 37 inspectors and 12 principal inspectors who are nominated members of the National Fairground Inspection Team. Inspectors are not dedicated full time to the team but carry out their fairgrounds work in a planned way as part of their normal range of work. In addition, the Team may call on specialised disciplines (e.g. mechanical, structural, electrical, medical etc.) within HSE, and use the services of specialist contractors should the need arise.

The team is directed and coordinated by HSE's Food and Entertainment Sector and reports through the HSE Director Scotland to the Director of Field Operations.

The National Fairground Inspection Team does not make direct recommendations but provides operational intelligence to inform the HSE strategy and how it can best be taken forward.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many named day written questions were tabled to the Department between 15 October 2002 and 24 February 2003; how many that received a holding answer were given a substantive answer (a) within three days, (b) within seven days, (c) within 14 days, (d) within 28 days and (e) over 28 days later; and what procedures the Department has in place to monitor performance on answering (i) parliamentary questions and (ii) ministerial letters. [99425]

Maria Eagle: 331 questions for answer on a named day were received from 15 October and 24 February. 199 were given holding replies, of which 54 were given substantive replies within three days, 42 within seven days, 69 within 14 days, 19 within 28 days and eight over 28 days. Many of these named day questions sought information of a detailed nature which required further analysis and work by officials in order to provide an answer.

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With regard to monitoring performance of parliamentary questions, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to the hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb) on 13 February 2003, Official Report, column 966W.

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to ministerial correspondence. The report for 2001 was published on 24 May 2002, Official Report, column 674W. The report for 2002 will be published in due course.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much has been levied in fines by the Health and Safety Executive against (a) companies, (b) local authorities and (c) individuals with regard to incidences of pollution broken down by the type of pollution incidence, (i) in total, (ii) in each region and (iii) per fine in each year since 1995; [99258]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does not levy fines. When appropriate, HSE brings, or in Scotland recommends, prosecutions so that the courts may consider imposing fines following any conviction.

Responsibility for regulating environmental pollution does not reside with HSE. The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and HSE have limited statutory responsibility in respect of the environment. Where they do have environmental involvement, HSE's activity is defined by the scope of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. These matters include legislation involving control of major accident hazards, licensing and decommissioning of nuclear reactors, carriage of dangerous goods, notification of new substances, biocidal products, non-agricultural pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

HSE does have an enforcement role in these areas, and the boundaries between its role and those of the Environment Agency (EA) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), are set out in Memoranda of Understanding. These can be viewed on the HSE's website at


Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what advice is given to employers about provision of smoke free working and rest areas for employees. [99981]

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Mr. Nicholas Brown: All employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees, and this duty includes any risks arising from passive smoking.

More specifically, the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require employers to protect non-smokers from discomfort caused by tobacco smoke in rest rooms and rest areas. This means that employers must either provide separate rest rooms/areas for smokers and non smokers or prohibit smoking in rest rooms/areas.

Free guidance published by HSE provides advice to employers on introducing effective smoking policies in the workplace. The guidance advises that employers must ensure that there are arrangements to protect non-smokers from discomfort caused by tobacco smoke in rest rooms or rest areas.

The guidance recommends that smoking policies in the workplace should give priority to the needs of non-smokers who do not wish to breathe tobacco smoke.

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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what policy his Department has adopted on smoking in the workplace. [100928]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: In all our businesses, smoking is banned within all public areas and also within open plan working areas.

Arrangements are made locally on a site by site basis in consultation with staff the procedures for those who smoke. Smoking rooms are provided where space allows.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the introduction of an Approved Code of Practice for smoking in the workplace. [100947]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Government are currently looking at possible options to reduce the exposure of people to tobacco smoke.

We will announce our conclusions in due course about how best we will achieve further progress in this area.