In June of 2008, following a review of the New Approach to technical harmonisation, the 'New Legislative Framework' was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
A key component of the package is EC Regulation 765/08 (accreditation and market surveillance). This regulation will, for the first time, provide a legal framework for the provision of accreditation services across Europe by setting out the provisions for the operation of accreditation. It will enhance the confidence in and quality of conformity assessment (for example testing, certification and inspection) of products and services through the increased use of accreditation. It does this by establishing a system of accreditation that functions by reference to a series of consistent principles to binding rules. It will thus help to strengthen mutual confidence between member states in respect to the competence of conformity assessment bodies and consequently the certificates and test reports issued by them. This reinforced system will help ensure that the conformity assessment bodies provide the high quality services that manufacturers, consumers and public authorities need.
While this regulation is directly applicable law, and applies from 1 January 2010, it requires each member state to appoint a single national accreditation body (NAB).
Since 1995, the Government have recognised the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) as the sole NAB for the UK. Since its establishment by the Department of Trade and Industry, UKAS has played a significant role in the operation of national, European and international accreditation.
I have therefore with statutory instrument 2009 No.3155 formally appointed UKAS as the UK's NAB.
BIS has a long-standing and effective relationship with UKAS that both parties value highly. We will continue to work together not only to ensure that the requirements of EC Regulation 765/08 are fulfilled but to improve the quality and breadth of accreditation in the UK, and that accreditation plays its proper and valued role in the standardisation infrastructure.
In advance of the forthcoming Energy Council in Brussels on 7 December, I am writing to you to outline the agenda items which will be discussed. I will represent the UK.
The first item on the agenda is an update on the energy efficiency package (made up of a directive on the energy performance of buildings; a directive on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy related products; and a directive on the labelling of tyres with respect to fuel efficiency). We expect the presidency to provide information on progress. The UK supports the ambition of the individual elements of the energy efficiency package and is happy with the progress made so far.
The Commission will then report on progress on the proposal for a regulation on the security of gas supply. The progress report will be followed by a policy debate, which will be centred around questions provided by the presidency. While many member states are likely to broadly welcome the intention of the draft legislation, which is designed to improve the ability of the EU to withstand a gas security of supply emergency, the UK and others have serious concerns over the extension and open-ended nature of powers that the legislation envisages for the Commission. This is in relation to both national emergency planning and in dealing with an EU emergency.
The Commission will also provide information on the state of play on the economic recovery package for energy; this may be followed by an exchange of views by Ministers. The UK is pleased to see that the Commission is pressing ahead with implementation of the economic recovery package, which we consider a means of stimulating jobs and growth in the short term, improving energy security and laying the foundations for a low-carbon future.
The Commission will report on progress on the proposal for a Council regulation on the notification of investment projects in energy infrastructure within the European Community, followed by a discussion. Other member states are likely to share the UK's concern that any additional reporting burden on Governments and industry is fully justified.
This will be followed by a presentation from the Commission and an exchange of views on the Commission's recent communication on investing in the development of low-carbon technologies (SET-Plan). The UK supports the objectives of the EU's Strategic Energy Technology Plan but has concerns over the financing estimates and expectations outlined in the Commission's communication on financing.
Finally, the Commission and the presidency will provide reports on a number of items on international relations in the field of energy including relations between Ukraine and Russia, the Energy Community Treaty, and the EU-US Energy Council. Discussions of Russia-Ukraine relations are expected to continue over lunch.
Under any other business, the Commission will report on progress in implementing the Baltic energy market interconnection plan.
The Swedish presidency have organised a dinner for Ministers the night before the Council, where a decision on the location of Agency for the co-operation of energy regulators (ACER) is to be taken.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): Her Majesty's chief inspector of prisons for England and Wales, Dame Anne Owers DBE was appointed in August 2001, initially for five years. Her appointment has been extended but she has now indicated that she will not be seeking a further extension as chief inspector when her current term of office expires at the end of March 2010.
The Ministry of Justice will shortly be advertising the vacancy and seeking applicants for the chief inspector post. Although the post is not within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the appointment will be made using a process which takes account of the Commissioner's code of practice as best practice. I will inform the House once I have selected my preferred candidate for the post.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of the Leader of the House of Commons (Barbara Keeley): This list includes all requests and whether they have been submitted on the floor of the House, by letter, e-mail or another method. Weeks where there were no such requests are not included.
"Middle East" (Business Questions)
"Human Rights in China" (Business Questions)
"Electoral Reform" (Letter)
"Steel Industry" (Business Questions)
"Food Labelling" (Business Questions)
"Public Spending" (Business Questions)
"Economy-Future Investment in Public Spending" (Business Questions)
"Economy"-Effect of Capital Spending" (Business Questions)
"Democratic Reform" (E-mail)
"Parking Enforcement" (Business Questions)
"Burma" (Business Questions)
"Iran" (Business Questions)
"Pakistan" (Business Questions)
"Archer Inquiry-Contaminated Blood" (Business Questions and Letters)
"Effectiveness of Job Centre Plus" (Business Questions)
"Equitable Life" (Business Questions)
"Freedom Passes" (Business Questions)
"Donaghy Report" (Business Questions)
"Reporting of proceedings in Parliament" (Business Questions)
"Violence against Women" (Business Questions)
"Territorial Army" (Business Questions)
"Multilateral Disarmament and Non-proliferation" (E-mail and in person)
"Military Covenant" (Business Questions)
"Royal Mail" (Business Questions)
"Agriculture" (Business Questions)
"Global Food Security" (Business Questions)
"Regionalisation of Fire Brigade Control Centres" (Business Questions)
"Immigration" (Business Questions)
"Fireworks Nuisance" (Business Questions)
"Military Covenant" (Business Questions)
"Misuse of alcohol and alcohol-related injuries" (Business Questions)
"The Economy: Supporting Business" on 4 June 2009
"Carers" on 11 June 2009
"Preparing Britain's Economy for the Future" on 18 June 2009
"UK Manufacturing" on 9 July 2009
"Copenhagen Climate Change" 16 July 2009
"Economic Recovery" on 22 October 2009
"Fireworks Safety" on 29 October 2009
The Department for Transport has recently consulted on the strategy to improve road safety in Great Britain in the next decade and on a number of dangerous behaviours on the road. I have been considering carefully the responses to both these consultations.
Great Britain is among the best performers in the world on road safety. We have made very good progress in reducing the numbers of deaths and serious injuries over the last decade, and it is good news that we met in 2008 the targets for casualty reductions that we set for achievement by the end of 2010.
If we are to continue to make progress in this area, we will need to be effective in tackling the most dangerous behaviours on the roads. Although most drivers are safe and responsible, there is a minority that continues to compromise safety by driving while under the influence of drink and/or drugs. Drink-driving was involved in 430 road deaths in 2008 and research suggests that drug-driving is also a key concern for the public.
Many consultees to our road safety strategy have urged us to take a fresh look at the drink drive limit as part of wider efforts to reduce drink-driving. On drug driving, the police tell us that there are practical problems with enforcing the current drug-driving legislation, including the absence of reliable equipment to identify impairing substances.
Based on the evidence to date, I think there may be a case for reforming the current legal framework covering drink and drug driving. However both topics raise complex legal and practical issues, and I have decided that before I publish a new road safety strategy I should seek further advice on both these topics from an independent expert.
I have therefore asked Sir Peter North to provide me with advice on the merit of specific proposals for changes to the legislative regime for drink and drug driving, reporting by the end of March 2010. Sir Peter is an internationally renowned legal expert whose previous studies include the review of traffic law which led to the Road Traffic Act 1991 and his 1997 report on marches and parades in Northern Ireland which led to the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. It will be a matter for Sir Peter how he proceeds; and he will act wholly independently in publishing his conclusions and advice.
This report will inform the final contents of the next road safety strategy. For drink-driving, the report will advise on the case for changes to the prescribed alcohol limit for driving (either reducing the current limit, or adding a new, lower limit, with an associated revised penalty regime). For drug-driving, the study will advise on whether there is a need for new legislation to make it an offence to drive with a named substance in the body. For
both drink and drugs, the study will also set out the likely impacts of any changes on driver behaviour, and the practical steps needed to support introduction of any or revised offence. I have placed a copy of the terms of reference for the review in the House Library.
Once this review has reported, I will consult on its findings.