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21 May 1997 : Column WA7

Written Answers

Wednesday, 21st May 1997.

Lifetime Homes

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they are giving to amending the building regulations in order to provide a much greater number of "lifetime" homes.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for the Environment and Transport (Baroness Hayman): In January 1995 the Department of the Environment issued a consultation on extending Part M of the building regulations, covering access and facilities for disabled people, to dwellings. The proposals include a number of the provisions suggested for lifetime homes. The analysis of the responses to the consultation is complete, and active consideration is now being given to issues identified in the responses. These issues include technical points raised and also the cost of some of the measures proposed.

Bicycle Bells

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, as requested by organisations for the partially sighted, they will restore to the regulations governing the construction of bicycles the requirement for the fitting of an audible warning device.

Baroness Hayman: I am aware that there is support for the mandatory fitment of bells to bicycles, and I am looking at the issues as a matter of priority.

Monosodium Glutamate

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that monosodium glutamate is dangerous; and whether it is banned in the United States but is widely used in this country in soups and soup powders and other savoury products.

21 May 1997 : Column WA8

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): In 1991, the European Commission's Scientific Committee for Food (SCF) evaluated monosodium glutamate (MSG) and, on the basis of the available data, considered that MSG is safe to use at current levels in food.

In the United Kingdom, MSG is used as a flavour enhancer in a variety of foodstuffs, with some exceptions, under the Miscellaneous Food Additives Regulations 1995.

It is not banned in the United States of America.

Health Care: Expenditure

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether United Kingdom expenditure on health is half that of Germany; and whether half the annual saving from ending the Trident programme could eliminate hospital waiting lists.

Baroness Jay: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development international database shows that, in 1994, total health-care expenditure in the United Kingdom amounted to the equivalent of £790 per person, compared to £1,220 per person in Germany. Both public and private health-care expenditures are included in the figures, which are adjusted to take account of differences in purchasing power between the two countries.

The Government have made it clear that they will retain Trident.

Homeless Persons: Registration with General Practitioners

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will review the difficulties which restrict the registration of the homeless with GPs in the light of the Shelter Report Go Home and Rest.

Baroness Jay: We are aware of the difficulties which the homeless experience in registration with general practitioners, which are referred to in the Shelter Report Go Home and Rest. We believe that a number of mechanisms to help the homeless to receive primary care exist in Section 56 of the National Health Service Act 1977 (or Section 33 of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978), and are considering how the provisions of the Primary Care Act 1997 might be able to offer a variety of other solutions for health authorities.

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