Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (October 17):
I have received complaints from parents that currently, the design of the majority of public toilets in shopping malls, parks and those venues under the Government has not yet met children's needs (including the lack of smaller pedestal toilets, and urinal bowls and lavatory basins being installed at a high position). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
(a) it had conducted any review on the above situation (including reviewing the Building (Standards of Sanitary Fitments, Plumbing, Drainage Works and Latrines) Regulations (Cap. 123 sub. leg. I)); if so, of the outcome of the review; whether it will put forward amendment proposals, in order to provide toilet facilities suitable for use by children; if it had not conducted any review, the reasons for that, and whether it will conduct a review and consider amending the relevant regulations to require that toilets in public places shall be provided with facilities suitable for use by children; and
(b) it will consider providing toilet facilities suitable for use by children in toilets located in public facilities (including parks, public markets, government offices, community centres, maternal and child health centres, and public hospitals, etc.) as a first step; if not, of the reasons for that?
My reply to the two-part question is as follows:
(a) The Buildings Department (BD) has commissioned a consultancy study on the provision of sanitary fitments in existing buildings and the Building (Standards of Sanitary Fitments, Plumbing, Drainage Works and Latrines) Regulations. Concerning sanitary facilities for children, the consultant has studied the experience in other overseas countries and the Mainland. The study revealed that the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore as well as the Mainland have no statutory requirement for toilets in public places to be provided with water closets, urinal bowls and lavatory basins suitable for use by children. The consultant therefore recommended that the Government should adopt a non-mandatory approach to recommend the provision of sanitary fitments suitable for use by children in shopping arcades, department stores and other public places.
The BD issued a Practice Note in May 2005 advising the industry to consider providing sanitary fitments suitable for children's use when designing the relevant premises. The BD also considers that it is not necessary to revise the relevant legislation at this stage.
(b) At present, public facilities such as Government's school dental clinics, maternal and child health centres, some community centres, markets, government offices, parks, paediatrics wards and paediatrics specialist out-patient clinics in public hospitals under the Hospital Authority and newly built shopping arcades and markets under the Hong Kong Housing Authority are provided with some toilet facilities suitable for use by children.
In planning and building new public facilities, the Government will, subject to the actual needs and users' requirements, provide toilet facilities suitable for use by children, such as smaller water closets, urinal bowls and lavatory basins installed at a lower position for children's use. Moreover, when maintenance or improvement works are carried out for existing public facilities, the departments concerned will, as far as possible, provide toilet facilities suitable for use by children according to the actual needs and practicability.
Ends/Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Issued at HKT 13:12