Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence

Letter from the Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt MP Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to Martin O'Neill MP, Chairman of the Trade and Industry Committee

  I welcome the decision of the Trade and Industry Committee to investigate the economic impact of the End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive.

  As you will know, my Department issued its consultation paper on 10 August which set out the Government's preliminary views on the options for implementing the ELV Directive. We have invited comments from all interested parties on these and any other possible options by 2 November and will then decide the best way forward, taking into account the responses we receive. We have kept in close touch with industry on this Directive throughout the implementation process to date and have made it clear that we will also be happy to continue meeting them to discuss the issues during the consultation period. It seems to me that the timing of your inquiry is also helpful in this regard and we will certainly look to take full account of your findings.

  Whilst it would be wrong therefore for me to prejudge the best way forward, it may be helpful for me to set out the guiding principles that the Government has adopted for implementing the directive.

  We intend to implement the Directive with a light regulatory touch. The Directive contains a number of exemptions—many won by the UK during negotiations—and allows us partly to implement through voluntary agreements. We have no intention of "gold plating" and will take full advantage of these provisions where possible.

  We also intend to maintain the broadly level playing field between the main car-producing Member States. Every Member State will implement the Directive differently and we cannot guarantee exact parity with one State or another—but we have no intention of damaging the competitiveness of the UK vehicles industry and take their concerns very seriously.

  It seems likely, however, that there will be treatment and recycling costs connected with the Directive from the outset in 2002. One key question facing the Government is who should meet these costs, particularly between 2002 and 2006. We recognise that these costs will be significant and will be giving this issue very careful consideration.

  I hope this is helpful.

Patricia Hewitt

27 September 2001

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