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vital statistics

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The population of the uk is just under 59 million, says the National Office of Statistics. About 93 per cent of households own a telephone, 69 per cent a car, 82 per cent a video and 75 per cent a microwave. Each day about 700,000 people visit their doctor, and 130,000 their dentist.

House prices will rise 5 per cent in 1998, says the country's biggest mortgage lender, Halifax. Housing starts increased by 8 per cent for October, November and December last year, compared with the previous three months.

A study of top engineering, architecture and construction companies showed that 86 per cent of people in print departments spent five or more hours on their feet each day. Advice from Xerox Engineering Systems, which carried out the survey, suggests exercises including clenching and releasing toes within shoes to improve circulation.

Plans by Railtrack to upgrade the mainline rail freight route from the Channel Tunnel to Scotland would take the equivalent of 400,000 heavy lorry journeys off the road, it says. Its planned freight upgrade programme would also involve building the rail equivalent of the M25 round London.

Up to 106,000 additional homes could be created in London by using infill sits of up to 1 ha, converting more houses into flats, and developing backland areas, says a report from the London Planning Advisory Committee, prepared by consultant Llewellyn-Davies.

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