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Volume 402: debated on Friday 4 April 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions his Department has had with (a) the Department of Health and (b) local authorities regarding (i) overcrowding and (ii) poor housing in connection with tackling the rise in incidences of tuberculosis. [106572]

The Department of Health is in the lead on a Government-wide delivery plan to tackle health inequalities. This will look at a range of factors contributing to inequalities in health. To be published shortly, the delivery plan will set out how Government programmes can be effectively targeted at health inequalities. Tackling poor housing is key to this process and this Office will continue to be involved in ensuring that these problems are addressed.Measures in the draft Housing Bill, published on 31 March, introduce the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to replace the current fitness standard. HHSRS will enable local authorities to assess overcrowding as a health and safety hazard and to take proportionate action. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister welcomes responses from local authorities to this.