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Vital statistics

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The number of architectural and planning firms reporting higher earnings in 1999's first quarter compared with the previous one rose 3 per cent to 38 per cent, says the cic.

Around 15,700 homes were started in Britain this May compared with 13,200 last May, says the detr. In the latest three months 48,700 homes were started, up 1 per cent in the same period last year.

Construction tender prices rose by 0.7 per cent in 1999's first quarter and have remained almost unchanged since the second quarter of 1998, reflecting the uncertain market, says the rics. Cost of materials fell 1.2 per cent in the last year; nationally agreed wage rates rose 6.1 per cent.

National Surveillance Scheme for Legionnaires Disease reported 226 cases in England and Wales in 1997, with 28 people dying. Buro Happold says elderly and children are most at risk.

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