Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Lord Hunt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Department for Work and Pensions to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 15 December.[212]

  In your letter of 7 April 2005[213] to my predecessor Jane Kennedy, you regretted that the initial RIA did not include any possible impact on small businesses due to the pace at which negotiations were moving. The Health and Safety Executive had at that time already started to address this matter and carried out a telephone survey of a number of small firms principally involved with laser radiation sources. The companies generally employed less than 10 people and were selected through contact with their trade associations and other relevant sources of information. The companies chosen reflected a geographical spread across the country. Each company was told about the requirements of the Directive and sent a copy. We did not receive any subsequent responses indicating that there would be an adverse impact on their business. The companies were generally well aware of the need to undertake risk assessments and worked closely with their trade associations from whom they obtained much support.

  You already know from my letter of 30 November that the Directive has now changed substantially since the initial proposal following the removal of the natural radiation (sunlight) provisions. As a Directive that now deals solely with optical radiation from artificial sources including laser sources, it is in keeping with the European Commission's commitment to better regulation. The Exposure Limit Values are based on the well-accepted international guidelines and the requirements in the Directive do not add significantly to dutyholders existing requirements under current health and safety legislation.

  The Health and Safety Commission will be issuing a formal consultation document in due course with draft regulations and this will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to provide comments.

  The revision of the RIA on the amended proposal that is now in line with the Government's position is being undertaken. It will indicate a significant decrease in burdens on business due to the sunlight proposals being entirely removed. I should be able to send you a copy by the end of January.

16 January 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Lord Hunt

  Thank you for your letter dated 16 January which was considered by Sub-Committee G on 9 February.

  We are grateful to you for explaining about the Health and Safety Executive's consultation of small organisations and for pointing out that, now the sunlight provisions have been removed, compliance requirements are unlikely to add significantly to the duties required by existing UK health and safety legislation.

  As you know, we have already lifted the scrutiny reserve in this matter. Nevertheless, we would be glad to see the revised RIA promised in your letter. As it is not entirely clear from this correspondence whether the amended Proposal has now been adopted, we would be grateful if you could also clarify the position when replying.

10 February 2006

Letter from Lord Hunt to the Chairman

  Further to my letter of 16 January, I am enclosing a revised Regulatory Impact Assessment together with a copy of the text agreed at the conciliation meeting on 6 December (not printed). The Council will adopt this text on 20 February and the Parliament shortly thereafter.

  As I indicated in my previous letter, the RIA confirms a significant decrease in costs with the removal of the sunlight provisions and the associated decrease in burdens on business. This is a successful outcome that is compatible with the UK's better regulation agenda.

28 February 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Lord Hunt

  Thank you for your letter dated 28 February which was considered by Sub-Committee G on 16 March.

  We are pleased to see that the RIA confirms that a significant decrease in costs is expected, following the removal of the controversial sunlight provisions.

  We are also grateful for the copy of the text agreed at conciliation meeting on 6 December 2005. We note that the Council adopted this text on 20 February and that European Parliament is expected to do so shortly.

16 March 2006

212   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 659. Back

213   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, pp 657-658. Back

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