§ Mr. Spearing
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what communications he has sent to local authorities concerning installation of mains gas facilities for dwellings or other services in system-built tower blocks; and what information he has requested concerning such installations and their removal.
§ Mr. Gow
I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 23 October 1984, at columns 553–57, to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Heddle) on 10 May this year, at columns 526–27 and to the letters from my Department to local authorities of 26 October 1984 and 10 May 1985, copies of which were placed in the Library.
In the letter of 26 October 1984 authorities were reminded that mains gas should have been disconnected from all large panel system buildings over six storeys in height which had not been designed or strengthened to resist a standard static pressure of 5lb per square inch (psi). At the same time authorities were asked to complete a return of all their large panel buildings stating their height, the forces which they were capable of resisting and whether they had a piped gas supply. These returns are being analysed by the Building Research Establishment.
In the statement enclosed with the Department's letter of 10 May 1985 I again drew attention to the need for authorities to take urgent steps to prevent the use and storage of explosive materials in large panel system buildings of more than six storeys not designed or strengthened to resist a standard static pressure of 5 psi. I urged authorities to appraise the robustness and resistance to progressive collapse of their large panel buildings of six or fewer storeys, particularly where piped gas was installed or liquid petroleum gas was used.