Agrément Board

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Building and Works – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st August 1966.

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Photo of Mr Richard Body Mr Richard Body , Holland with Boston 12:00 am, 1st August 1966

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works when the Agrément Board will begin to issue certificates.

Photo of Mr John Eden Mr John Eden , Bournemouth West

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works when the Agrément Board will begin to issue certificates.

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

The Board expects to begin to enter into formal contracts with manufacturers in October. When certificates can be issued will depend on the length of time required for testing and assessment.

Photo of Mr Richard Body Mr Richard Body , Holland with Boston

Why has there been this delay? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that a year has gone by since it was decided to appoint this Board?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

The Board was appointed at the end of last year, so that rather less than a year has gone by. The Board has been fully occupied in the meantime in arranging staffing, accommodation and organisation and going into the legal and procedural problems of starting a completely new operation. I think that it has made reasonably good progress. I hope that on both sides of the House there will be a general welcome for what it is beginning to do and that hon. Members will wish it well in its efforts.

Photo of Mr John Eden Mr John Eden , Bournemouth West

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the work of the Board could become immensely valuable and that it should press ahead. Will he give it every encouragement?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

Yes, Sir. In the interim period, applications from manufacturers have been accepted and the Board is arranging for the Building Research Station to undertake testing in suitable cases. Although the formal contracts will not begin until October, some preliminary work is going ahead which will expedite matters after that date.

Photo of Mr Richard Body Mr Richard Body , Holland with Boston

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what steps he has taken to ensure co-operation between the Agrément Board and the National Building Agency, in view of the possibility of the Board examining building systems.

Photo of Mr Keith Stainton Mr Keith Stainton , Sudbury and Woodbridge

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether the Agrément Board will approve building systems.

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

The Agrément Board will make technical assessments of all building innovations, including new products, techniques, or systems. It will issue certificates based on its findings. At the suggestion of my predecessor, the Chairmen of the National Building Agency and of the Agrément Board have already met and agreed on a basis for mutual co-operation.

Photo of Mr Richard Body Mr Richard Body , Holland with Boston

When did that take place? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that only a fortnight ago a new director said that there had not been time to co-operate with the agencies? How can he reconcile those two statements?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

I am advised that they have met to discuss this, although I do not have the dates in front of me. Certainly, the advice given to my predecessor was that they should have these discussions in order to see that there is no overlapping. I do not think that there need be any overlapping. I believe that there is a fairly clear division of function between the two.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth Vauxhall

Would my right hon. Friend consider using a good English name for the Board, such as the Standards Board?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

The name was settled before I took over this office. The advantage of the name is that it is the name used in many other countries. It has a very important international aspect, in that British materials which get an Agrément certificate will thereby be helped in export markets, particularly in the setting up of an Agrément Board between countries—the Union d'Agrément Internationale.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

While I welcome the existence of this Board, whatever its name, would the Minister say why it was decided to have a separate Board and not allow this work to be done under the auspices of the National Building Agency?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

There is a separate function here, in that the Agrément Board will be looking at materials and components. In so far as both may be looking at building systems, the Board will be looking at the technical aspects of the components used, whereas the agency will be looking at the commercial and architectural aspects and so on. These are different functions.