Commons to wage 'mod cons' battle: A Labour member is waging a campaign for improved council toilet provision, reports David Nicholson-Lord

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THE CAMPAIGN to preserve the British public toilet reaches the House of Commons today when a Labour MP introduces a Ten-Minute Rule Bill aimed at halting its slow slide into fee-paying extinction.

Jon Owen Jones, MP for Cardiff Central, will call for councils to provide a minimum number of public toilets, with twice as many for women as for men.

He also wants child-care and nappy-changing facilities to be mandatory and says turnstiles should be abolished.

Although the Bill is unlikely to have much impact on a government bent on deregulation, Mr Jones claims all-party support and says the Citizen's Charter includes indicators on public conveniences.

An Early Day Motion calling for better toilet provision attracted more than 160 signatures from MPs of all parties. The recently-formed All Mod Cons campaign, which is backing Mr Jones's Bill, says the issue is not party political and affects 'the health, dignity and lifestyle of millions of people in Britain'.

According to a survey organised by Mr Jones and carried out through the Institution of Environmental Health Officers, women are getting a 'very raw deal' from local authorities.

Despite the fact that women take twice as long as men in toilets and have a greater need for them, there were almost twice as many male toilets. Only one council reached the target standard for women. The targets were one facility for 1,100 men or 550 women. The survey also found that four-fifths of provision for men was inadequate.

Of the 160 councils, 52 provided no nappy-changing facilities and only seven gave a reasonable level of provision - a situation Mr Jones describes as 'appalling' in the international year of the family.

Mr Jones's Bill will seek to revoke a section of the 1936 Public Health Act which allows local authorities to charge for women, but not for men.

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