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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Epichlorohydrin is an important chemical which is most commonly used in the production of epoxy resins, for instance for internal coatings for some food and beverage cans; and in the manufacture of wet-strength agents in some food contact materials. Government-funded research has shown that there is no migration of epichlorohydrin from can coatings into food and powdered beverages. The food industry is moving towards use of resins in the manufacture of wet-strength agents which have lower epichlorohydrin levels; and also lower levels of 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD) which is associated with epichlorohydrin and which the Food Advisory Committee has advised should be undetectable in foods (less than 10 parts per billion). Epichlorohydrin is also used in chemicals for agricultural use but is not used in any currently authorised diazinon pesticides. However, MAFF advises that establishing the extent to which it is used in other pesticide products could only be done at disproportionate cost.

Respiratory Symptoms in Children

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Baroness Hollis of Heigham (H.L. Deb., 16 February, col. 1301) that "75 per cent of the illnesses of the children of lone parents are respiratory related and correlated with their parents' smoking", what is the correlation with exposure to moulds and fungi, dust, poor nutrition, stress and lack of sleep in this group of children.[HL1145]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Such information as is available is set out below.

There is consistent evidence of an association between damp and mouldy housing and reports of respiratory symptoms in children. However, this association is not at present attributable to any specific fungi or bacteria in the air. Research is being carried out in this area and on the health effects of dust particles. Analysis of some factors related to wheezing in children in lone parent households was included in chapter 5 of The Health Survey for England: The Health of Young People '95-97, a copy of which is available in the Library.

The 1996 English House Condition Survey estimates that nearly 59 per cent of the children of lone parents who smoke and live in homes with mould growth suffer from respiratory illnesses, compared to 39 per cent of such children in homes with no mould growth. The equivalent percentages for children where no person smokes in the home are 49 per cent and 37 per cent respectively.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), in its report published in 1992 Smoking and the young, found that passive smoking is causally associated with additional

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episodes and increased severity of asthma in children who already have the disease. It goes on to say that there is little doubt that asthma is related to exposure to maternal smoking.

What Happens to Lone Parents by Ford, Marsh & Finalyson (1998) found that over the period of the study, one-quarter of lone parents who responded had at least one child suffer long-term illness, 8 per cent had two or more ill. Nearly 70 per cent of the reported health conditions of the first or only ill child in the household were respiratory problems (most likely asthma). The second most common condition for children was nervous disorders (epilepsy).

Our report, Opportunity for All--Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion (1999), includes the following:

"Over one in four unemployed lone parents with infants live in poor housing, compared with 14 per cent of the population as a whole. Damp, inadequate heating and overcrowding are associated with general ill health and respiratory disorders, accidental injury and emotional problems. Children in low-income families are disproportionately more likely to suffer from poor health and live in worse environments".

Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive: Charging

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Environment Agency propose to charge pig and poultry farmers for implementing the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, when there is no such requirement under the directive[HL1123]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, charging is a matter for each member state. The Environment Act 1995 requires the Environment Agency to recover the full cost of its regulatory activities.

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they propose to introduce charges for pig and poultry farmers for implementing the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, when the directive is not due to come into force across the European Union until 2007.[HL1124]

Lord Whitty: The directive had effect from October 1999, and new or substantially changed installations will require an IPPC permit immediately; we expect there to be few, if any, such installations in the pig and poultry sectors. Under the regulations we propose to make later this session existing installations will be phased into IPPC on a sectoral basis until 2007 in order to spread the workload of the regulators. The poultry and pig sectors are due to be phased into IPPC in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The order of phase-in is guided by the production by the European Commission of the BAT reference documents on which UK guidance on standards will be based.

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Abnormal Loads: Ignoring of Signs

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In what circumstances it would be legal for the driver of an abnormal load to

    (a) go the wrong way past a "keep left" sign;

    (b) go the wrong way around a roundabout; and

    (c) cross a solid white line in the middle of a carriageway.[HL1197]

Lord Whitty: The legal significance of (a) "keep left signs", (b) signs at roundabouts and (c) solid white lines and permitted exceptions is set out in:

    (a) Regulation 15 of the Traffic Signs Regulations 1994 (SI 1994/1519 Part I);

    (b) Schedule 2, diagram 606 of those regulations; and

    (c) Regulation 26 of those regulations.

It is an offence under Section 36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 not to comply with the indications given by these signs. There are no special exemptions for drivers of abnormal loads. However, police officers and traffic wardens have powers to direct and regulate traffic as necessary (for example, to avoid an obstruction).

Road Safety Strategy

Lord Orme asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made in developing a road safety strategy.[HL1313]

Lord Whitty: Today, we have published our road safety strategy, Tomorrow's roads--safer for everyone. This sets stretching new targets to reduce the number of casualties on our roads, particularly child deaths and injuries. By 2010, we want to see a 40 per cent overall reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured and a 50 per cent reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured compared with the average for 1994-98. We also want to see a 10 per cent reduction in the rate of slight injuries, measured per 100 million vehicle kilometres.

Measures to achieve these objectives include:

    expecting local authorities to use their powers to introduce self-enforcing 20 mph zones around schools and in residential areas;

    a robust package of measures to further reduce drink driving;

    strengthening enforcement of drug driving, including a commitment to legislate to give police the powers to test for drugs at the roadside;

    consulting the public on a package of measures designed to encourage young and new drivers to take a more structured approach to learning to drive;

    continuing to monitor the driving test to ensure it is sufficiently stretching and appropriate for modern driving conditions;

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    developing information schemes and advice for older drivers and publicity on the dangers of driving while using a mobile phone;

    expecting a 30 mph speed limit to be the norm for villages;

    increasing resources for local transport plans, which will include local road safety plans and targets, to £1 billion next year;

    setting up a road safety advisory panel which will include representatives of the main stakeholders and will help us to review our targets and strategy; and

    raising the standard of road safety education, particularly promoting child pedestrian training in deprived areas, where we know children are at greater risk.

Enforcement of road traffic law will have a major part to play in improving road safety. The Home Office is conducting a major review of all road traffic penalties, including those for speeding and careless driving, which will report in due course.

The Government's detailed review of speed policy has also been published today. Tomorrow's roads--safer for everyone reflects the findings of this review. It does not recommend blanket changes to existing speed limits but acknowledges that there is a place for lower limits in specific areas where there is an accident problem.

Copies of the documents published today--the Government's detailed review of speed policy; the Government's response to the ETR Select Committee's report Young and Newly Qualified Drivers: Standards and Training; the Government's response to the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety's report Road Traffic Law and Enforcement; the Highways Agency's safety plan Making the network safer--Highways Agency strategic plan for safety and a report by the Transport Research Laboratory The numerical context for setting national casualty reduction targets--have all been placed in the Library.

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