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12 Jan 1995 : Column WA29

Written Answers

Thursday 12th January 1995

EUROPEAN COMMISSION: EMPLOYEES

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many (a) civil servants and (b) others are employed by the European Commission and at what annual cost; and what proportion of the former are engaged in promoting new or amending legislation or communications.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The 1994 EC budget made provision for 14,918 Commission employees. Total appropriations in the budget to cover basic salary for Commissioners and Commission staff were 736.396 mecu (£579.611 million). It is not possible to produce any accurate estimate of the proportion of these which is engaged in promoting new or amending legislation or communications.

HIGHWAYS AGENCY

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What functions, if any, the Highways Agency has in Scotland.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The Highways Agency has no functions in Scotland.

BUILDING REGULATIONS: CONSULTATION PAPER

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult on amending the building regulations in England and Wales to help disabled people gain access to and within dwellings.

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The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): I am today issuing a consultation paper setting out the Government's proposals for amending the Building Regulations 1991 to make certain requirements in relation to the design and construction of new dwellings which will be of benefit to disabled people. Comments on these proposals are invited by 30th April 1995. It will be important to establish what measures will be of particular benefit to disabled people, and what the implications will be on housebuilding costs. A copy of the consultation paper has been placed in the Library of the House.

WATER COMPANY BY-LAWS: CONSULTATION PAPER

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish their proposals for measures to replace water company by-laws in 1997.

Viscount Ullswater: We have today published a consultation paper about the purpose, format, scope, and administration of measures to replace water by-laws. Copies have been placed in the House libraries. For many years, water companies have made by-laws for the prevention of waste, misuse, undue consumption and contamination of water. Current by-laws expire in 1997 but there is no provision now for the companies to make new ones. We are therefore consulting a wide variety of interest groups and individuals on a range of replacement options.

The paper explores a number of possible options from a non-statutory code of practice to national regulations either as part of the building regulations, as separate water regulations or a combination of these two. It also considers whether water companies should continue to control the replacement provisions or whether the responsibility should be transferred to the local authorities, an independent agency or placed under joint control. There are some difficult issues to be addressed but above all the health and safety of consumers must be protected and water companies must be able to carry out their statutory duty to maintain an adequate supply of water which is fit for human consumption.

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