TRANSPORT OF DANGEROUS GOODS (10793/02
Letter from John Spellar MP, the Minister
of State to the Chairman
I must inform you that two proposals currently
before the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union
have been considered by COREPER and the European Council, have
been opposed and will not be adopted.
The proposals discussed in Explanatory Memorandum
10793/02 and 10795/02 (submitted to your Committee by the Department
for Transport on 23 July 2002) were listed for decision by the
European Council on 3 October. The proposals are concerned with
the time limits within which pressure drums, cylinder racks and
tanks for the transport of dangerous goods must comply with the
My Department considered placing a reserve on
these proposals so that the scrutiny process could be concluded
when your Committee resumed business after the summer recess.
However, we were aware that the proposals, developed in close
co-operation with the Department, had been brought forward by
the European Commission specifically to assist the United Kingdom
and Ireland by extending the time limit, and that it would therefore
be difficult to argue for a reserve to procedural reasons. We
concluded, therefore, that in this instance it was preferable
to allow business to go ahead as scheduled.
In the event, other Member States have opposed
the proposals, and they will not be adopted. The time limit for
implementation of these provisions remains 1 July 2001. This will
have no effect in the United Kingdom: we will continue to plan
for implementation of these provisions from 1 July 2003 as part
of a wider project to introduce consolidated Carriage of Dangerous
Goods by Road and Rail Regulations.
21 October 2002
Letter from the Chairman to David Jamieson
MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport
Thank you for your Explanatory Memoranda 10793/02
and 10795/02 dated 23 July 2002 which Sub-Committee B considered
at its meeting on 14 October 2002.
We agree that the Commission is right to seek
a Council Decision on their proposal to delay the implementation
of these Directives until 30 June 2003. We note the importance
to the United Kingdom of ensuring that any legal uncertainty about
the status of tanks and cylinders built in the UK 1 July 2001
and 1 July 2003 be removed.
We note, too, that Ministers have decided to
transpose these proposals and to implement the Directives in the
new 2003 Consolidated Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and
Rail Regulations currently being drafted by the Health and Safety
Under the circumstances, the Scrutiny reserve
on these documents is lifted. However, we should be grateful to
be kept informed of the progress of the documents, in particular
if there is any likelihood of the Commission failing to secure
the postponement it has asked for.
21 October 2002
Letter from the Chairman to John Spellar
MP, Minister of State, Department for Transport
Thank you for your letter dated 21 October which
crossed with mine of the same date.
As you will see, we were content to lift the
Scrutiny reserve on this document. We now note that the proposals
will not go forward because of opposition of other Member States.
You claim that this will have no effect in the
United Kingdom, but surely these proposals were designed to remove
the legal uncertainty between the current time limit for implementation
of 1 July 2001, and the UK's implementation from 1 July 2003.
Has this legal uncertainty been removed?
30 October 2002
Letter from John Spellar MP
I wrote to Lord Brabazon of Tara on 21 October,
crossing with his letter of the same date, about two proposals
discussed in Explanatory Memorandum 10793/02 and 10795/02 (submitted
to your Committee by the Department for Transport on 23 July 2002).
He wrote to me again on 30 October asking for further information.
Since then, the passage of these proposals has
taken an unexpected course. I have waited to be quite certain
of the outcome before writing again.
I told you that we had lifted the scrutiny reserve
on two proposals that were listed for decision by the European
Court on 3 October. We also reported that since the proposals
had been opposed, they would be rejected. However, it appears
that the blocking minority necessary for rejection did not materialise.
With no clear vote either for or against, the European Council
had the option of making no decision, and that is what they did.
The Commission then took advantage of a procedure (Council Decision
1999/468/EC) under which if the Council had neither accepted nor
rejected a proposal within three months, the Commission can formalise
the decisions themselves. The Commission therefore published these
decisions on 7 November.
We are very pleased with this sudden and unexpected
turnaround. The point you asked about and which I could have made
more fully in my earlier letter was that the anticipated loss
of the proposals left us in no more uncertain a position than
we were before the proposals were put forward. But this is now
behind us. The Commission's decisions bring a clear benefit to
UK industry by removing the legal uncertainty surrounding the
way in which these types of tank are manufactured. They also remove
the risk of infraction proceedings against the UK on this point.
2 December 2002
Letter from the Chairman to John Spellar
Thank you for your letter dated 2 December which
Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 16 December.
We are as delighted as you by this unexpected
turn of events. In particular, we are reassured that the Commission's
decisions remove the legal uncertainty surrounding the way in
which these types of tank are manufactured and the risk of infraction
proceedings against the UK on this point. Thank you for keeping
17 December 2001