HC Deb 11 March 1998 vol 308 cc192-3W
Mr. Alan Johnson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how he intends to handle applications from bodies seeking Approved Inspector status under part II of the Building Act 1984. [34329]

Mr. Raynsford

I 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. I 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, I am arranging for the CIC to undertake assessment of all new applications from corporate bodies received by my Department from now on. I 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 Department from companies seeking approved inspector status. I have decided to approve an application from RBC Ltd. This approval will take effect from 1 April 1998. My Department is notifying local authorities of this approval, in accordance with the Approved Inspectors Regulations. Subject to consultation with the applicants, the Department will arrange for the CIC to take forward the assessment of some of the remaining applications currently with the Department 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, I am working to devolve the setting of charges for local authority building control to individual local authorities. I 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. I 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 arrangements. The Steering Group will be holding its first meeting shortly.