Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 7):
In January last year, the Government advised this Council that in response to public concern about inadequate provision of sanitary fitments in female lavatories in shopping arcades, cinemas and places of public entertainment, the Government planned to amend the Building (Standards of Sanitary Fitments, Plumbing, Drainage Works and Latrines) Regulations (Cap. 123 sub. leg. I) in the 2007-2008 legislative session. As an interim measure before amending the Regulations, the Buildings Department ("BD") issued the non-mandatory Practice Note for Authorized Persons and Registered Structural Engineers ("Practice Note") in May 2005 to revise the ratio for assessing the number of male to female in these premises from 1:1 to 1:1.25 and the standard for the provision of sanitary fitments for male and female. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
(a) given that in reply to a question raised by a Member of this Council in January 2007, the authorities advised that 11 building works projects of private shopping arcades, cinemas and places of public entertainment had adopted the new guidelines for the provision of sanitary fitments in female lavatories, and BD would assess the effectiveness of the guidelines upon the completion of these projects, of the number of such projects completed at present and the progress of the assessment work concerned;
(b) of the reasons why the authorities did not include the proposed amendments to the above Regulations in the Buildings (Amendment) Bill 2007; and
(c) of the policies and measures in place to complement the implementation of the male to female ratio recommended by the Practice Note?
My reply to the three-part question is as follows:
(a) Since the promulgation of the new Practice Note by the Buildings Department (BD) in May 2005, up to December 2007, 32 building projects of private shopping arcades, cinemas and places of public entertainment have adopted the new guidelines on the provision of female sanitary facilities and six of them have already been completed.
In an earlier consultation on the relevant provision standards and from the views collected subsequently, it has been revealed that the revised ratio leading to an increase in female sanitary facilities is generally welcomed by the public. In fact, many stakeholders hoped that the concerned standard could be further enhanced so as to increase the female sanitary facilities in the public places concerned. After examining the views and reviewing in detail, the consultant commissioned by the BD recommended that, taking the Practice Note as basis, the sanitary facilities for female in private shopping arcades, cinemas and places of public entertainment should be further increased. The BD is consulting the industry on the recommendations in order to decide the way forward.
(b) The BD has commissioned the consultant to review the existing provision of sanitary facilities in buildings and the Building (Standards of Sanitary Fitments, Plumbing, Drainage Works and Latrines) Regulations. The scope of the consultancy study not only involves the increase in sanitary facilities for female in private shopping arcades, cinemas and places of public entertainment, but also covers a comprehensive review of the existing design and technical standards of plumbing, drainage works, sanitary fitments, etc. to meet the needs of modern society and the advances in construction technology. The BD is consulting the industry on the package of proposed amendments to the above Regulations and will commence the preparatory work for the amendment.
(c) The new Practice Note promulgated by the BD in May 2005 recommends that the male-to-female ratio in private shopping arcades, cinemas and places of public entertainment should be raised from 1:1 to 1:1.25. As mentioned in paragraph (b) above, the BD will incorporate the proposed requirements and standards into the amendment regulations.
Since the promulgation of the new Practice Note by the BD in May 2005, to facilitate users of various Government facilities and create a pioneering effect, the Administration has adopted the new standards on the provision of female sanitary facilities in new buildings. The Architectural Services Department has issued internal guidelines, stipulating that all works projects under its purview should comply with the requirements of the new Practice Note to increase the number of sanitary fitments for female. The Hong Kong Housing Authority has also formulated internal design guidelines, requiring that sanitary fitments as recommended in the Practice Note should be provided in newly built public lavatories in public places, including shopping arcades.
Ends/Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Issued at HKT 14:44