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Building Regulations Approved Documents

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My department consulted on amending Section of 7 of the Building Act 1984 in April 2000. This consultation arose from the Deregulation Task Force report for 1995–96 which said:

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To test this assertion, the consultation proposed that the status of the approved documents should be changed to alter the burden of proof from developers to building control bodies. However, the results of this were inconclusive. While some respondents considered that the current legal status of the documents did inhibit designers and developers, others argued that they did not and that there would be a loss of necessary protection if their status were changed. As a result of this, we are considering how the approved documents could be changed to meet the concerns of all parties.

Airline Passengers

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the main findings of the recent Civil Aviation Authority and Joint Aviation Authorities research into the minimum seat space required for each airline passenger; and whether those findings will, as recommended by the Science and Technology Committee in the 5th Report for Session 1999–2000 on Air Travel and Health, be used to develop an unambiguous set of definitions of aircraft seat sizes so that intending passengers can make an informed decision about the space they are purchasing. [HL3580]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: This research was carried out by ICE Ergonomics Ltd on behalf of the Joint Aviation Authorities under funding from the UK Civil Aviation Authority and was aimed principally at harmonising European standards on the safety issues associated with seating. The main finding suggested that a minimum seat spacing of 29.4 inches is needed to accommodate the 99th percentile of passenger by body size, allowing 1 inch of knee clearance to the back of the seat in front. The report also recommended that in order to guarantee sufficient seated space a minimum foot clearance envelope is needed. These results were based on software modelling using anthropometric data and the research recommends passenger trials to validate the findings.

In parallel with this, the UK's Aviation Health Working Group has prepared definitions of aircraft seat dimensions covering leg, elbow and hip room. It is intended that these will shortly be agreed with representatives from industy and consumer groups before being circulated to airlines and other interested parties.

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they have taken (a) to promulgate their November 2001 advice to intending air travellers on action to help prevent deep vein thrombosis; and (b) to monitor ways that others further promulgate that advice; and, in particular, what arrangements they have made with airlines about active publicity to passengers in both economy and other classes at the time of booking, at check-in, on take-off and in flight. [HL3581]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The advice produced by the Government in November 2001 has been made

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available to the public through NHS Direct, the Internet, the airlines and health services. Advice on deep vein thrombosis and travel is also widely available to the public in the Department of Health's Health advice for Travellers booklet.

The Government have not been prescriptive about how the airlines should present this material to passengers. We have however continued to monitor the use the airlines have made of this advice and are satisfied that they are providing good quality information in a variety of formats, including leaflets, in flight magazines, announcements and videos. The British Air Transport Association has stated that all UK long haul carriers, both charter and scheduled, provide passengers with advice on health before and during the flight.

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many passengers they estimate are carried annually on United Kingdom-registered aircraft that have re-circulatory ventilation systems incorporating less than the highest available standard of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration; and what action they propose to take to reduce this number to zero. [HL3582]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: All UK registered long haul aircraft have HEPA standard filters fitted. On short haul routes some aircraft types cannot be fitted with HEPA filters or do not re-circulate air and therefore do not require filters. Nevertheless we understand that the majority of UK registered aircraft operating international short haul flights are fitted with HEPA filters.

It would be difficult to produce reliable estimates in terms of passengers carried.

Building (Amendment) Regulations

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will withdraw the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002/440) until there has been full consultation with all affected parties, in particular the Federation of Master Builders and the Federation of Small Businesses.[HL3583]

Lord Falconer of Thorton: No. Officials in my department have replied to correspondence from the two federations setting out the full extent of the consultation which took place.

Local Authority Bus Controls

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the uncertain timescales involved in seeking primary legislation, they will consider using the Regulatory Reform Order procedure to extend the maximum length of local authority bus contracts to 10 years; and when this is likely to be effected. [HL3686]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Use of Regulatory Reform Order procedures in this regard will certainly be considered, but we will of course need to take account of other calls on use of these procedures before a final decision is taken.

Dual Mandate: Proposed Changes

Baroness Scott of Needham Market asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the proposed changes of dual mandate will preclude Members of the House of Lords serving as members of a local authority. [HL3687]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: No. This proposal, if assented to by the European Parliament and agreed by the Council of the European Union, would make membership of the European Parliament incompatible with membership of a national parliament from 2004, though the UK has obtained a derogation for serving members of the UK Parliament until 2009. It has no implications for the membership of local authorities.

London Underground

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide the normal notification period in which to consider the proposed comfort letters laid before this House on 20 March in respect of the London Underground public private partnership.[HL3690]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: We have decided to extend the consultation period for the comfort letters laid before this House on 20 March. This will provide the customary notification period.

Pain Control Clinics

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many specialist pain control clinics were operational within each region of the National Health Service on the latest date for which figures are available; and how many were operational three years before that.[HL3546]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Department of Health does not collect this information.

We are aware of the Clinical Standards Advisory Group report on Services for Patients with Pain published in April 2000, which showed that chronic pain services exist in 220 National Health Service trusts in the United Kingdom.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many specialist pain control clinics have closed during the past three years in Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall.[HL3547]

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The information requested is not available centrally.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the average waiting time for each region of the National Health Service for patients referred for consultation at specialist pain control clinics on the latest date for which figures are available. [HL3557]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The average median waiting time for 2000–01, from the date of a decision to admit a patient for treatment for pain management to the admission date, are as follows:

Regional officeMedian waiting time in days
Northern and Yorkshire46
West Midlands50
North West33
South East55
South West38

The figures reflect all National Health Service trusts treating patients with a specialty code for pain management and are based on elective waiting list and booked hospital in-patient admissions.

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