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The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The guidance note on tall buildings prepared jointly by English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) is published today.
The Government expect new development to be well-designed, safe and sustainable, whether it comprises a tall building or low rise. It considers that all buildings should be designed with regard to their likely impact on their immediate surroundings and the wider environment. The policy is set out in PPG1 General Policy and Principles, and is supported by good practice guidance, By Design.
In response to last year's Select Committee inquiry on tall buildings, the Government encouraged English Heritage and CABE to finalise their draft guidance note Guidance on tall buildings, taking full account of the committee's recommendations. The Government consider that such a note, in support of government policy and existing good practice advice, will contribute to sound planning decisions on tall buildings.
The Government therefore welcome the publication of the joint guidance note. The Government consider that the good practice advice provided will be of value to local planning authorities in drawing up their planning policies for tall buildings, and capable of being material to the determination of planning applications.
Lord Rooker: In January 2002, the Government issued a consultation document on possible changes to the Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order. Responses were to be received by 24 April 2002. We received over 2,000 responses which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has since been considering.
During the course of the parliamentary debates that have taken place on the Licensing Bill, attention has been drawn to an issue on which we received many representations as part of the Use Classes review. There is widespread concern that the inclusion of pubs and bars with other uses such as restaurants and cafes in the A3 Class is contributing to the increase in the number of licensed premises in some areas and that such changes in use do not require planning permission. I have considered these representations carefully and I am announcing today that it is our intention to change the Use Classes Order so as to put pubs and bars into a separate class. The effect of this change will be to require any proposal to change use of an existing building into a pub or bar to apply for planning permission.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Mattresses currently included on the national framework agreement negotiated by the National Health Service Purchasing and Supply Agency meet Health Technical Memorandum 87the National Health Service fire code document for textiles and furniture. This standard recommends compliance with a higher level of ignition source than the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
However, the framework agreement is not a mandatory contract. NHS trusts are responsible for choosing their own procurement route for these products. Therefore, they may buy products from suppliers that are not listed on the framework agreement. Information about which mattresses are bought by individual trusts is not held centrally.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Legal Services Commission (LSC) reports on a regular basis to my department on measures being taken to ensure the quality of publicly funded immigration and asylum practitioners. Funding has been withdrawn from firms if the LSC is not satisfied that required standards are being met. As solicitors are self-regulating there is no requirement for the OSS to report to this department, but the LSC and OSS have worked closely for a number of years to take action against unscrupulous or incompetent practitioners. The OISC has a duty to promote good practice among all legal service providers and has no enforcement power other than referral to designated professional bodies (DPBs), but submits an annual report to the Secretary of State which reports on the effectiveness of each DPB in regulating its members in the provision of immigrant and asylum legal services.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Work Foundation estimates are based upon a small sample of employers. The estimates are therefore subject to significant sampling and non-sampling error. Estimates from the Labour Force Survey, a much larger household survey of employees, suggest that in autumn 2002 absence rates were 1.8 per cent in the private sector and 2.3 per cent in the public sector.
The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) has not supported any amount of export credits to British companies trading with Burma during the years 1998 to 2002. ECGD is off cover for Burma because the risks are unacceptable and in view of the political and human rights situation in Burma, it is government policy not to encourage trade or investment that directly or indirectly benefits the current Burmese regime.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Since the most recent revision of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which took place in June 2000, the United Kingdom national contact point
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