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12 Mar 1998 : Column WA69

Written Answers

Thursday, 12th March 1998.

Building Inspectors: Amendments to Regulations

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to handle applications from bodies seeking Approved Inspector status under Part II of the Building Act 1984.[HL1024]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): We intend to make regulations further amending the Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 1985. These amendment regulations will provide that, with effect from a date later this year, applications from corporate bodies seeking approved inspector status shall be made to a designated body, not, as now, to the Secretary of State. We intend that the Construction Industry Council will be designated for this purpose. The CIC is already the designated body for applications from individuals seeking approved inspector status.

In preparation for this change, we are arranging for the CIC to undertake assessment of all new applications from corporate bodies received by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), from now on. We will decide such applications in the light of the CIC's advice in cases where the CIC's assessment is complete before the coming into effect of the amendment regulations. In cases where assessment is not complete when the amendment regulations take effect, the decision will become the responsibility of the CIC.

There are a number of applications currently with the DETR from companies seeking approved inspector status. We have decided to approve an application from RBC Ltd. This approval will take effect from 1 April 1998. The DETR is notifying local authorities of this approval, in accordance with the Approved Inspectors Regulations. Subject to consultation with the applicants, the DETR will arrange for the CIC to take forward the assessment of some of the remaining applications currently with the DETR on the same sort of basis as for new applications.

Wider competition between approved inspectors and local authority building control should be a stimulus to greater efficiency and higher standards of service to the customer. To help bring about this result, we are working to devolve the setting of charges for local authority building control to individual local authorities. We also wish to see arrangements put in place for setting and monitoring compliance with common standards of building control applicable across the public and private sectors. We therefore welcome the establishment by the Local Government Association, the Construction Industry Council and the Association of Corporate Approved Inspectors of a steering group to draw up recommended standards and monitoring

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arrangements. The steering group will be holding its first meeting shortly.

Government Offices for the North-West and Merseyside

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to continue to have separate Government Offices for the North-West and Merseyside.[HL1023]

Baroness Hayman: We have decided to merge the Government Offices for the North-West and Merseyside. Links between the Government Office and the proposed Regional Development Agency for the North-West will be simpler if they, like those in the rest of England, cover the same geographical area.

The intention is to establish the single Government Office by about October 1998. We will consult the unions before the merger takes effect. We intend the new Government Office, whose title will be the Government Office for the North-West, to retain premises in Manchester and Liverpool. The Liverpool office has a particularly important role in the administration of Objective 1 European funding and the associated programmes.

Northern Ireland: Analysis of A-Level Points

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish data for Northern Ireland for secondary schools, grammar schools, independent schools, further education colleges and for all institutions in each of the years 1994 to 1997 giving for each kind of institution the average A-level points obtained per pupil in each of the subjects; mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, English literature, history, geography, French and economics.[HL906]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): Information in the form requested is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Disability Benefits: Studies

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish research into awards of Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance.[HL1025]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Today we are publishing A Study of Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance Awards. We are also publishing First Findings From The 1996-97 Disability Follow-up to the Family Resources Survey, and the Disability Living Allowance

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Advisory Board will today publish its discussion paper, The Future of Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance. Copies of these documents have been placed in the Library.

The information contained in these documents provide an important insight into these benefits and highlights the need to consider them very carefully in the context of welfare reform. We will discuss the publications with disabled people's organisations and other interested parties.

Artificial Limbs

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider the merits of a voucher scheme for people requiring artificial limbs, along the lines of the current voucher scheme for wheelchairs.[HL966]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Government have no plans to introduce a voucher scheme for people requiring artificial limbs. The specification of artificial limbs is highly specialised and complex. Each unit is designed to fit the individual user and the fitting needs to take account of the cause of their amputation, their potential for mobility and their lifestyle needs. The market configuration and the need for expert clinical supervision of the entire surgical, fitting and support process militates against a voucher scheme being an option for artificial limb services.

Family Mediation: Suppliers

Lord Ashbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which organisations and consortia of organisations have received money in the form of a grant or otherwise, or are scheduled to receive such money, to carry out mediation pilots under the provisions of the Family Law Act 1996, stating in each case the amount given or to be given to each organisation or consortium; the purpose of the grant; the starting date of the pilot; and what conditions have been laid down as a prerequisite to applying for or receiving such grants.[HL857]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The 33 organisations listed in the following schedule are contracted to the Legal Aid Board for the purpose of providing legally aided family mediation. Phase I contracts commenced between July and September 1997 and will end between May and July 1998. Before a contract is awarded by the board, the mediation supplier must be able to demonstrate that the mediators have trained with one of the key mediation bodies and that the service is working towards compliance with the requirements of the Draft Family Mediation Franchise Specification. Information about the amounts paid to

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organisations under contracts must remain confidential at present, as negotiations are continuing with further mediation suppliers and disclosure of these details would be likely to affect the Legal Aid Board's negotiating position with the organisations concerned. List of organisations awarded contracts by the Legal Aid Board to provide legally aided family mediation


    Divorce Mediation and Counselling Service

    Mediation for Families (East London & City)

    Barnet, Haringey and Hertsmere African Caribbean Family Mediation Service

    The Family Mediation Service at the Institute of Family Therapy

    N.C.H. Action for Children--Eye to Eye

    South East London Family Mediation Bureau

    Anthony Gold Lerman and Muirhead

    The Family Law Consortium

    Bates Wells & Braithwaite

    Dawson Cornwell & Co.


    Cambridge Family & Divorce Centre

    Peterborough & District Family Mediation Service


    Coventry & Warwickshire Family Mediation Service

    Birmingham Family Mediation Service

    Blair Allison & Co.


    Family Mediation Cardiff

    South Wales Family Mediators Association

    Hugh James

    The Mediation Practice

    Morgan Bruce


    Family Mediation Service (Northumberland & Tyneside)

    Durham Family Mediation


    Greater Manchester Family Mediation Service

    Greater Manchester Family Mediators Association

    Simon Bergin Solicitors


    Northamptonshire Family Mediation Service

    Smith Chamberlain--The Mediation Service

    Paul Montgomery

    Wilson Browne

    Toiler Hales & Collcutt


    Bristol Family Mediation Service

    Bristol Family Mediators Association

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