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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 23 February 2004


Workplace Health and Safety

The Minister for Work (Mr. Desmond Browne): Today, the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) are launching a new strategy for workplace health and safety in Great Britain. We fully support this strategy, which is based on the experience of the last 30 years, evidence available now and extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders.

The strategy represents a significant change of approach for the health and safety system as a whole and the role of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities within that system. It sets out HSE's ambition to be a modern regulator, responding to new issues in the changing world of work. It emphasises the focus on mging risks, not trying to eliminate them. The strategy also places a greater emphasis on seeking improvements in occupational health.

To make the greatest impact, HSE and its partners will focus more resource on those areas of greatest need and less where the risks are well mged.

The strategy recognises that HSE cannot achieve improvements on its own. The whole of the health and safety system needs to be involved. This means forming close partnerships with local authorities and other stakeholders.

The strategy also recognises that the people best placed to make workplaces safe are the staff and mgers who work in them. To support them there is a need to promote greater involvement of workers and to make accessible to them clearer and simpler advice and information.

Over the last 30 years there have been significant improvements in workplace safety. We want to see similar improvements in occupational health. That will require working together with other health organisations.

Improvements in occupational health have a close synergy with the wider Department for Work and Pensions agenda of preventing people from leaving work due to ill health and helping people move back into work. Preventing accidents and ill health at work plays a major role in this agenda, particularly in relation to occupational health issues such as stress and musculoskeletal disorders.

The Government want to see occupational health and safety as a cornerstone of a civilised society and with that achieve a record of both health and safety that leads the world. Much has been done, but there is more to do. The strategy is needed to help us to tackle new issues, especially in occupational ill health and to ensure that workplace safety continues to improve.

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We fully endorse the new strategy, which has been placed in the Library.


Historic Environment

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn): I would like to update the House on the progress made on implementing the recommendations contained in the Government's statement on the historic environment, "A Force for Our Future", since March 2003.

The statement, published in December 2001, articulates the Government's vision for the historic environment at the heart of national life and sets an agenda for unlocking its full potential. This programme of action emphasises the value of the historic environment as an educational resource, its relevance to all members of the community and how it can work as an economic and regenerative asset in urban and rural settings.

The Government will continue to take this agenda forward in a number of ways, in particular through the review of heritage protection, English Heritage's annual state of the historic environment reports, the DCMS/DfES Joint Committee on Built Environment Education and English Heritage's funding agreement, which is co-sponsored by DCMS, DEFRA and ODPM.

Since March 2003 the following has been achieved:

June 2003

The Government historic estate unit published "Protocol for the Care of the Government Estate 2003" recommending its adoption by Government Departments who own and mge historic estate and providing a model of good practice for all publicly funded bodies.

The Historic Houses Association launched www.historichousevenues.com, an online resource listing privately owned historic houses and gardens throughout Britain which offer exclusive facilities for pre-booked groups and individual visits, special events, catering and accommodation. The aim is to increase public access and develop commercial activity.

July 2003

English Heritage published "Streamlining Listed Building Consent: Lessons from the Use of Mgement Agreements", a report on the effectiveness of listed building consent mgement guidelines and their potential to streamline the listed building consent regime.

The Architectural Heritage Fund, with support from English Heritage and Cadw, launched an online directory of sources of funding available for rescuing and restoring historic buildings at www.ffhb.org.uk

English Heritage published "Mging Local Authority Heritage Assets—some guiding principles for decision-makers", promoting best practice in the mgement of council-owned heritage assets and high quality design in new work related to them, including public spaces.

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The Minister for Media and Heritage launched "Protecting Our Historic Environment: Making the System Work Better", a consultation document aiming to improve and refocus the way in which England's historic environment receives statutory protection.

The Government published its consultation "Historic Environment Records: Benchmarks for Good Practice", inviting views on how best to ensure that the rich resources currently held in sites and monuments records across the country can be developed and made available to professionals, schools and colleges as well as the wider public.

English Heritage convened a series of meetings to develop and share best practice on access for people with disabilities to historic properties and sites.

August 2003

English Heritage published its consultation document "Local Authority Performance Indicators for Historic Environment Services", seeking views on developing a performance assessment framework for local authorities mging the historic environment.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport launched the DCMS/DfES Joint Advisory Committee on Built Environment Education, which will focus on how best to promote the built environment as an educational resource.

September 2003

Six new commissioners were appointed to the English Heritage Commission, including for the first time a commissioner responsible for access and outreach issues.

Ministers in DCMS, ODPM and DEFRA signed an innovative joint funding agreement for English Heritage. This recognises for the first time the contribution English Heritage makes to the delivery of all three Departments' targets.

Heritage open days 2003, organised by the Civic Trust with support from English Heritage, attracted over 800,000 visitors to 2,512 properties and activities. There was a significant increase in the number of participating properties and activities, local organisers and volunteers.

The Historic Houses Association and English Heritage, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, launched a pilot scheme to assist private owners of historic houses to develop education programmes.

October 2003

Royal Assent was given to the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill.

The UK signed a Co-operation Agreement with UNESCO, which will enable developing countries to benefit from UK heritage and conservation expertise. UK experts will assist developing countries with identifying world heritage sites and preparing mgement plans and conservation strategies for both cultural and natural world heritages sites.

The Minister for Media and Heritage launched the National Heritage Training Group's business plan "Building on the Past: Training for the Future". It sets out the group's plans to tackle the skills deficit in traditional building crafts, including a traditional building crafts training plan.

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November 2003

"Heritage Counts", the second state of the historic environment report, was launched:

English Heritage published "Easy Access to Historic Properties" for consultation. The publication gives guidance to those responsible for the historic environment on the provision of access for people with disabilities. The updated version takes into account the implementation of Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the updated Part M of the Building Regulations.

December 2003

The 2003 Pre-Budget Report confirmed that funding for the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme would continue until the end of March 2006.

The Disability Rights Commission, in association with English Heritage, held a consultative conference on making historic buildings accessible to people with disabilities.

The Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act came into effect.

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