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Mr. Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con):
I join other Members in thanking the Minister for his statement. As he will be aware, 19 non-combatant deaths took place at Catterick garrison between
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1995 and 2001 in the infantry training section alone. Many parents, including my constituent, Lynne Farr, whose 18-year-old son Daniel died at Catterick in 1997, feel that those deaths cry out for some form of inquiry, but the Minister has been quite clear about that today and we all welcome the depth of thought that he has obviously given to the issue. Will he take a personal interest in ensuring that grieving parents whose children have died are kept informed of the steps that will follow the Blake report as issues develop?
Mr. Ingram: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for those comments. We recognise that there are non-combat deaths in other areas. I gave the figure of the more than 1,700 families that would come into the ambit of this particular campaign. Lynne Farr is a formidable woman and she argued her case very well. We are considering ways in which she can use her experience as a mother who has had to deal with such tragic circumstances to assist us, and how best to deal with other parents who find themselves in those circumstances. That will be difficult for her, but she is capable and willing to help.
The other element is to make sure that our relationship with parents who have young people at those training establishments is such that they are fully aware of everything that is happening through that process. There should not be any barriers to their understanding. We recognise that having parents on side is critical. Much of our welfare supportand the way in which we are seeking to address thingsenvelops the parents if they want to be engaged in the process. We must remember, of course, that once the young person is over 18, they are an adult and so there is a balance concerning who has ownership of that person's future. These are very difficult issues, not just in military training establishments, but in life generally, as well. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments.
Simon Hughes, supported by Lynne Featherstone, Tom Brake, Mr. Edward Davey, Susan Kramer, Paul Holmes, Mr. Mike Hancock, Dr. Evan Harris, Mr. Dan Rogerson, Mr. John Leech, Mark Hunter and Lorely Burt, presented a Bill to make provision with regard to the rights and obligations of council tenants and leaseholders; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 16 June, and to be printed. [Bill 163].
Mr. Mike Hancock (Portsmouth, South) (LD): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In his reply to my question on his statement, the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, the right hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Mr. Ingram) alleged that I was making some sort of allegation against the two former commanding officers. My point was quite clear: it was that both those officers have yet to give a public explanation of their actions following the deaths that occurred while those young people were in their charge.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that he is not raising a point of order; he is simply trying to continue the argument. There are other ways in which he can pursue matters of that kind.
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision about the installation in homes of thermostatic mixing valves to set bath tap water temperature to a maximum of 46 degrees centigrade; and for connected purposes.
I would like to tell the House a story about a little girl called Holly Devonport from Wakefield. Holly was five years old when she suffered scalds to more than half her body. Her mother, Julie, was running a bath and went to get a fresh towel. Holly was perched on the edge of the bath, playing with her Gameboy, and in the split second when her mother left the room, she slipped and fell in. Her mother said that when she pulled Holly from the bath her legs looked like they had been dipped in acid. Holly's agonising injuries meant that she endured a seven-hour operation to graft skin from her stomach on to her legs. She spent six weeks in Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield and six months in a wheelchair. She missed four months of school. She will be scarred for life. I know that many hon. Members in the Chamber met Holly and her mother yesterday and I am grateful to them for their support.
Holly is now 10 years old and yesterday she and her mother came to this place to launch the "Hot Water Burns Like Fire" campaign. The campaign is backed by Age Concern, the British Burns Association, the Child Accident Prevention Trust, the Children's Fire and Burn Trust, Help the Aged and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. They, and I, want to make sure that what happened to Holly does not happen to another child.
Unfortunately, what happened to Holly is happening to another child every single day of the year. Some 600 people a year suffer severe injuries from scalding hot bath water and three quarters of them are children under five. Fifteen pensioners a year die from burns that they receive from bath water. Why are pensioners and children the most vulnerable to scald injuries? The answer is because their skin is thinner and burns more quickly. Also, as any parent of a toddler will know, children have less perception of risk. Pensioners have less physical ability to deal with dangerous situations.
I have heard stories of children dropping toys into the bath and going in to get them and of pensioners getting cramp in their legs while topping up their baths with hot water. Someone e-mailed me this morning to share the story of her mother, who was due to go to a wedding and who was staying in a hotel. She turned on the hot bath tap and was scalded to death by the hot water. She went into burns-related shock. A person might have an epileptic fit, a heart attack or a stroke. They might drink too much or be on drugs and pass out in the bath. Those are everyday accidents, but they have extraordinary and catastrophic consequences for the individual.
My Bill would change the law so that thermostatic mixing valves, or TMVs, are fitted in all new and refurbished homes. Those valves would set the bath tap water temperature to a maximum of 48° C and it would emerge at about 46 ° C, depending on the water pressure
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elsewhere in the home. Let me put those temperatures in context. At 66° C, hot water burns through skin in two seconds. At 56° C, it takes 15 seconds. At 46° C, the temperature at which the valves would be set, it takes five minutes. If Members measure their own scalding hot baths they will find that the temperature is about 40° C. Nobody can sit in a bath at 46° C, but that temperature would allow people to buy time. I pay tribute to the district council in Wakefield, which, as far as I can establish, is the only council in the country to install the valves as standard across all its housing stock.
Legislation requiring homes to have TMVs comes into force in Scotland in May. Similar legislation has been passed in Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Why can we not do the same in England, Wales and Northern Ireland? We have an opportunity approaching. I understand that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are about to launch a joint public consultation on building regulation G, to look at water-saving devices in bathrooms and water fittings in bathrooms. I plead with the Minister to widen the scope of that consultation to include the installation of TMVs. I thank him for taking the time to meet me earlier this week and I would be grateful if he would meet me later to talk with the representatives of the campaign leaders and the organisations involved about the nature of the injuries that they see.
There may be shouts from the tabloids about the nanny state. There were shouts when we banned hairdryers from bathrooms, put fuse boards on electrical circuits, and passed laws to protect people from carbon monoxide poisoning from gas boilers. Dr. Keith Judkins, a consultant anaesthetist from Wakefield, told me yesterday that a scald over more than one fifth of one's body has the metabolic impact of being hit by a bus. It causes huge changes in the body's chemistry, which can be life threatening. People can go into burns shock.
If the human consequences do not convince people, let us consider the economic and environmental costs. It costs £80onceto buy a TMV. The lifetime cost to treat one scalding injury is £250,000. In one year, with TMVs, we could save £150 million for the NHS, and a lot of toddlers and pensioners a huge amount of suffering. In these days of rising gas prices, it simply does not make sense to superheat bath water and then mix it with cold water.
I am sure that all Members had a thermostat fitted to the showers that they used this morning. Nobody even thinks about thermostats on showers, but, for some reason, there is an incredible resistance to fitting them on bath taps. I doubt whether there is a person in the House who can say that they have not fallen asleep in the bath. Bath time should be about bubbles, ducks and funeven at our age.
Baths should still be hotbaths will still be hotbut, most importantly, baths should be safe. Hot water burns like fire. Hot water burned Holly Devonport, to use her mother's words, "like acid". This year, 400 children will suffer what Holly endured. Are we really saying that that is the best that we can do for our
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children? We live in the 21st century. Thermostatic mixing valves were invented 80 years ago, so what are we waiting for? Let us act now to amend the building regulations and save lives so that we can all enjoy safe, hot baths.
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