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Column 1134

Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)

Harris, David

Hayward, Robert

Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey

Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Janman, Tim

Jessel, Toby

Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)

King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)

Knapman, Roger

Knight, Greg (Derby North)

Lawrence, Ivan

Lightbown, David

Lilley, Peter

Maclean, David

McLoughlin, Patrick

Mans, Keith

Martin, David (Portsmouth S)

Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin

Meyer, Sir Anthony

Miller, Sir Hal

Mills, Iain

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Mitchell, Sir David

Moss, Malcolm

Moynihan, Hon Colin

Neubert, Michael

Nicholls, Patrick

Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)

Paice, James

Porter, David (Waveney)

Renton, Tim

Sackville, Hon Tom

Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)

Stevens, Lewis

Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)

Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)

Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)

Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)

Thurnham, Peter

Twinn, Dr Ian

Waller, Gary

Warren, Kenneth

Wheeler, John

Widdecombe, Ann

Wood, Timothy

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. John M. Taylor and

Mr. Irvine Patnick.


Alton, David

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Beith, A. J.

Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)

Blair, Tony

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Buckley, George J.

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)

Cryer, Bob

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Dixon, Don

Foster, Derek

Fyfe, Maria

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Illsley, Eric

Kennedy, Charles

Mahon, Mrs Alice

Meale, Alan

Michael, Alun

Nellist, Dave

Patchett, Terry

Pike, Peter L.

Randall, Stuart

Redmond, Martin

Richardson, Jo

Short, Clare

Skinner, Dennis

Wallace, James

Wareing, Robert N.

Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)

Tellers for the Noes

Mr. Frank Haynes and

Mr. Allen McKay.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Remaining Lords amendments agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 101(5) (Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.)

Road Traffic

That the draft Passenger and Goods Vehicles (Recording Equipment) Regulations 1989, which were laid before this House on 24th July, be approved.-- [Mr. Greg Knight.]

Question agreed to.

Column 1135

Electricians (Registration)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Greg Knight.]

1.58 am

Mr. Stuart Randall (Kingston upon Hull, West): It is of great concern that, with the advent of the single European market, the United Kingdom electrical contracting industry will be at a serious disadvantage compared with its counterparts in most of the other Community countries. That arises from the fact that on the continent the industry is regulated in the sense that operatives can carry out electrical installation work only if they are suitably qualified. In addition, the work has to adhere to mandatory safety standards. Furthermore, work generally has to be inspected to ensure that those standards are met.

In the United Kingdom, the electrical contracting industry works within a self-regulated framework. One consequence of that is that anybody who wishes to call himself or herself an electrician can do such work and is not bound even by the safety standards of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. That system leads to shoddiness, with the effect that sub- standard electrical wiring resulted in 3,500 accidental fires in dwellings and 2,800 accidental fires in other occupied buildings in the United Kingdom in 1987. That is according to the Home Office document entitled "Fire Statistics United Kingdom 1987". Mr. Gresty, the county trading standards officer of North Yorkshire county council, was kind enough to send me examples of extremely bad wiring practice. It is vital to take action to eliminate it.

The feeling in the industry is that the existing system of self-regulation will not enable it to compete fairly with unscrupulous continental operatives who will be able to work in the United Kingdom outside the influence of our system of

self-regulation. The irony is that they will be able to do that without any qualifications and without having to concern themselves with safety standards in the United Kingdom, although they would be prevented from doing such work in their own countries by the various regulatory systems that exist there. Clearly, they would be able to cut corners and complete work more cheaply, but the safety consequences would be disastrous. Our industry is not asking for regulations on a basis comparable with those in the other EEC countries, but it is asking to be able to compete fairly with its EEC couterparts. I am sure that the Minister will find that a reasonable argument.

A key step towards addressing the problem is that the Electrical Contractors Association--with, I am glad to say, help from the Government-- carried out detailed research and has just produced a report entitled, "Access for the British Electrical Contracting Industry to the European Single Market". That study investigated the issue of regulation in the electrical contracting industry in EEC countries and its possible impact on fair trade.

The main conclusions that I draw from the study are that the systems of regulation are variable in the EEC countries and there is no possibility of our self-regulated approach being adopted by the EEC for 1992. Therefore, we have to react to what exists on the continent in order to ensure fair competition and we need to do so as expeditiously as possible.

It is important to note that, if we fail to respond to the needs of the industry, our existing self-regulated system will not be able to monitor and establish the extent to

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