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Public Buildings (Lifts)

Volume 961: debated on Wednesday 31 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement concerning the building standards for the size of lifts in public buildings.

The size of lifts is not controlled in regulations, but there is a British Standard 2655 of 1971 which specifies loads and dimensions of lifts for various uses.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the head of the casualty department at Preston Royal infirmary told me that a number of lifts at that hospital and others were too small to take stretchers? He feared that lives would be endangered. Does my right hon. Friend not think that action should be taken to ensure a minimum size for lifts?

That is a different matter from that raised in my hon. Friend's original question. It will be difficult to find a solution if that problem arises on any scale in Preston in existing buildings. As regards the future, I make two points. I take note of the general proposition on guidance. More importantly, the number of high-rise, or even medium-rise, blocks of flats now being built by local authorities is down to less than 2 per cent., compared with 23 or 24 per cent. of the building programme a few years ago.

Will the Minister look at the problem of direct labour maintenance of lifts, which is an unmitigated disaster?

I have no doubt that the hon. Member will send me information. I understand that the vast majority of lifts in these high-rise blocks of flats are serviced by maintenance contractors.