HC Deb 12 March 1981 vol 1000 cc993-4
8. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he intends to undertake a review of the building control system in Northern Ireland, following the initiatives taken by the Secretary of State for the Environment relating to England and Wales.

Mr. Alison

I shall be considering the need for a review of the building control system in Northern Ireland to take account of the changes proposed in England and Wales. The established practice in Northern Ireland is to follow as closely as possible the England and Wales pattern for building regulations whilst making allowance for local factors.

Mr. Chapman

I am grateful for that reply. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Northern Ireland building regulations could be simplified without lowering the standards of safety and health? Is he prepared to take the initiative in seeking talks with the equivalent Ministers in the Welsh and Scottish Offices and the Department of the Environment to see whether building regulations can be unified throughout the United Kingdom instead of having four different sets?

Mr. Alison

We want to follow every good practice available in terms of simplicity and, if necessary, uniformity. However, we do not want to make a fetish of uniformity as an end in itself. We wish to follow best practice. We are in consultations with the Department of the Environment about the proposals in hand for England and Wales. We shall almost certainly follow them.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Will the Minister of State ensure that his officials keep in constant touch with their opposite numbers in Departments on the mainland with a view to ensuring that there is the utmost uniformity between the two sets of regulations and that, if possible, the reform is made in one instrument which can be debated as a whole by the House? Will he ensure that in any case there will be no difference in time in the application of any changes in the different parts of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Alison

I take note of the right hon. Gentleman's point, which he has made before. We do not want any unnecessary time lag in introducing into the Province good practice which might not be already available.