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Building Regulations Advisory Committee

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: The Building Regulations Advisory Committee is a statutory advisory non-departmental public body constituted under Section 14(1) of the Building Act 1984. The Secretary of State

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for the Environment, Transport and the Regions is statutorily obliged to consult the Committee on Building Regulations and other subjects connected with those regulations. The regulations apply in England and Wales. Appointments to the committee are made jointly by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions and by the Secretary of State for Wales.

The Government are continuing a programme of regular "Financial Management and Policy Reviews" of non-departmental public bodies. Under that programme we have now received and accepted a Financial Management and Policy Review report relating to the Building Regulations Advisory Committee for the period 1992-96.

The report traces the history and policy development since the establishment of the committee in 1962. In particular, it traces the evolution of the early building regulations--which provided a very prescriptive regime of building control--to a far more flexible process based on functional requirements. The report also highlights some of the more important procedural and technical areas which have evolved over the years--for example, providing for private sector involvement in the building control process at the election of applicants, and the rise in concern within the regulations for energy conservation and access and facilities for disabled people.

Financial Management and Policy Reviews are essentially concerned with assessing and reviewing the policy relevance and the cost-effectiveness of the body concerned. We are happy to say that BRAC scores high on both counts. We have no doubt that its experience with examining the core relevance of regulations will be of great value to this Government's policy of "better regulation".

As the report illustrates, the fact that members of BRAC are unsalaried, and that many willingly put in many hours in working parties, means that the cost effectiveness of the committee is excellent compared with what could be achieved by contracting out to consultants for the provision of expert advice. As the report also indicates, consultants in this context would not necessarily provide the full breadth of expertise we have to hand on BRAC and could also not necessarily provide the continuity of knowledge which is so essential.

Members are appointed to the committee for terms of usually two to three years. The committee's numbers had dwindled over the last year or so and, in addition, some appointments came to an end at the turn of the year. We therefore had the opportunity of appointing fresh blood to the committee--13 members in total. We have also within the discipline of the Nolan recommendations considered it right for the benefit of continuity and the excellent public service which has been offered to re-appoint five existing members. Details of the new committee membership were released in a letter dated 20 April 1998 to editors of the construction and property press.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Mr. Nick Raynsford, had the opportunity to meet the new committee in February and was able to say in person how much the Government valued the work of

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BRAC. He was also able to thank all those members who had served, or who were continuing to serve, on the committee. In giving a particular welcome to the new members he expressed the view that they should find the committee an interesting one to serve on. Having now studied the FMPR we have no doubt about the ongoing importance and relevance of the committee.

We have arranged for a copy of the FMPR report and the letter to editors to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Fair Rent Increases

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made in drawing up proposals to address the problem of fair rent increases affecting tenants under the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 and the Rent Act 1977.[HL2035]

Baroness Hayman: The Government are very concerned that private tenants with regulated tenancies and secure tenants of registered social landlords have faced exceptional rent increases in recent years. After market rents were introduced in 1989 for all new lettings, these tenants continued to have the protection of the fair rent system. However, they could never have anticipated the high level rent increases that some of them have faced. Many of them are elderly and on fixed incomes. They have planned their affairs on the basis that they would be able to remain in their present homes and are now faced with real financial difficulties. My department is today issuing a public consultation paper setting out how we propose to tackle this problem.

The proposals would apply to those private tenants and secure tenants of Registered Social Landlords who have a fair rent registered under the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 or the Rent Act 1977. Increases would be limited by an order made under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The limits would be RPI plus 10 per cent. for the first re-registration after the order comes into effect and RPI plus 5 per cent. for subsequent re-registrations. The limits would not apply if the rent had not previously been registered or a substantial increase in rent was due as a result of repairs or improvements by the landlord to the property. The limits would not apply to rent increases for assured and assured shorthold tenancies.

Comments on the proposals are invited by 24 July. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Library. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales is issuing a similar consultation paper in Wales.

Train Safety Proposals

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Health and Safety Commission will make proposals on Mark 1 rolling stock and on train protection.

Baroness Hayman: We are pleased that the commission has today launched a consultative document proposing regulations on the installation of train

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protection systems (to all trains and at key signals) and on Mark 1 rolling stock. Copies of the consultative document have been placed in the Library. Rail is already one of the safest forms of transport but we welcome the commission's proposals for making the network even safer.[HL2040]

London & Continental Railways:Revised Proposals

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received revised proposals from London & Continental Railways.[HL2038]

Baroness Hayman: We have received revised proposals from London & Continental Railways, which are being discussed with the company. A further announcement will be made as soon as possible after the Whitsun Recess.

Ferry Safety

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recent developments there have been in the safety of roll-on roll-off passenger ferries.[HL2039]

Baroness Hayman: We are pleased to announce the publication of an updated list of ferries operating to and from UK ports detailing the dates by which they must comply with the higher survivability standard specified in the Stockholm Agreement. We believe that it is important to continue to provide public information on ferry safety and will publish further lists when there are significant changes.

Officials from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions recently attended a conference hosted by the Swedish Government in Stockholm to consider the report of the Joint Accident Investigation Commission of Estonia, Finland and Sweden into the loss of the "Estonia" in September 1994. The conference was a welcome initiative from the Swedish Government and I thank them for it. It considered whether or not international action since the "Estonia" tragedy had sufficiently addressed the report's recommendations. It was agreed that most issues, particularly the potential problem of capsize due to water entering the car deck, had been satisfactorily addressed, confirming the signficant progress which has been made in recent years. The conference also agreed that there were areas where research might identify further potential safety enhancements. We will look closely at these to establish whether there are any further measures we can take to enhance the already very high safety standard of ferries operating to and from UK ports.

Scotland: Education Expenditure

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the expenditure on education in Scotland for each of the last 20 years at constant price; and[HL1939]

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    What was the year-on-year increase in expenditure on education in Scotland for each of the last 20 years (a) in cash terms; and (b) in the relevant percentage terms; and[HL1940]

    What was the increase or decrease in expenditure on education in Scotland in real terms in percentages for each year of the last 20 years; and[HL1941]

    What is the projected increase in allocation for education in Scotland (a) in cash terms; and (b) in real terms, for this year; and[HL1942]

    What is the projected increase in allocation for education in Scotland (a) in cash terms; and (b) in real terms, for next year.[HL1943]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The information is as follows:

Education£ million

YearOutturnCash Terms Increase%At 1996-97 Prices1996-97 Prices Increase%
1999-00Plans will not be announced until the conclusion of the Comprehensive Spending Review.


78-79/80-81 CMND 9143 II (Government Expenditure Plans)

81-82, 82-83 CM 56 II (Government Expenditure Plans)

83-84 CM 616 (Government Expenditure Plans)

84-85 CM 1015 (Government Expenditure Plans)

85-86 CM 1515 (Serving Scotland's Needs)

86-87 CM 1915 (Serving Scotland's Needs)

87-88 CM 2214 (Serving Scotland's Needs)

88-89 CM 2514 (Serving Scotland's Needs)

89-90/91-92 CM 2814 (Serving Scotland's Needs)

92-93/97-98 CM 3194 (Serving Scotland's Needs)


1997-98 figures are provisional.

1998-99 figures are plans.

1997-98 and 1998-99 are gross expenditure figures excluding receipts from sale of the Student Loans book.

Central government expenditure for 1993-94 was increased by a transfer of £255 million to reflect the Secretary of State for Scotland's responsibility for the direct funding of universities.

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