HC Deb 31 March 1994 vol 240 cc972-4W
Mr. Quentin Davies

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a statement on the effects of the electricity at work regulations on the tourism industry.

Mr. Sproat

[holding answer 11 March 1994]: In my inquiry, begun last summer, into which regulations were most damaging to the tourism industry, the damage caused by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, in the opinion of the tourism industry itself, ranked high. In fact, it was one of the seven most worrying regulatory problems identified by the industry. The core of the problem was perceived to be requirements for every movable piece of electrical equipment—for example, in hotel bedrooms—to be inspected, at three-month, six-month or 12-month intervals, tested by a qualified electrician, at a cost of some £3.50 per item, and for a sticker to be put on the movable electrical items, saying it had passed inspection on the date in question. One hotel chain had spent £350,000 on paying for such inspections in 1992.

I therefore asked the Department of Employment, which has responsibility for the Electricity at Work Regulations to look into the problem. This it did. It is now clear that the relevant requirements of the Electricity at Work Regulations are vastly different from what the tourism industry, through no fault of its own, had understood those requirements to be. The most relevant requirement is simply that electricial equipment used at work must be maintained in a safe condition, so far as is reasonably practicable. There is no requirement whatsoever to have every movable electrical item checked by a qualified electrician every three or six months. There is no requirement for such equipment to have stickers on it giving details of the inspection. There is therefore no requirement for a fee to be paid for every movable piece of electrical equipment so inspected. Much of what is required can be achieved by a simple visual inspection

Item Tax satisfied (£) Conditions or wishes Date of MGC recommendation
Painting by Agar 7,000.00 Unconditional 9 November 1992
Brogyntyn manuscript 50,505.00 Conditional 11 June 1993
Collection of glass 172,150.00 Conditional 21 July 1992
Gomm library furniture 152,257.64 Wish 11 October 1993
Haydn manuscripts 66,656.00 Conditional 30 March 1993
Painting by Herring 10,500.00 Unconditional 21 July 1993
Miniature portrait by Hilliard 140,000.00 Unconditional 1 July 1993
Wrest Park Papers and two albums 266,000.00 Wish 3 June 1993
Richmond Race Cup 15,400.00 Conditional 14 July 1993
Portrait by Romney 105,000.00 Unconditional 16 November 1992
Schudi Harpsichord 10,500.00 Conditional 30 March 1993
Two hats by Agar 3,500.00 Conditional 16 September 1992
Two paintings by Vuillard 280,000.00 Unconditional 22 April 1993
Sketchbooks by Ardizzonne 51,046.00 Unconditional 8 April 1993
Painting by Constable 196,000.00 Conditional 11 November 1993
Portrait by Lawrence 96,320.00 Unconditional 22 October 1993
Land at Sheringham 97,560.00 Conditional n/a
Portrait by Gainsborough 1,114,600.00 Conditional 5 February 1992

The total expenditure for the 1993–94 financial year was £3,114,600. This includes a further payment of £316,605.36 for a painting "Weeping Woman" by Picasso which was accepted in 1986–87. Acceptance of the Gainsborough portrait was made possible by a call on the reserve of £1,114,600, being the total amount from the reserve this financial year.

A press notice has been issued today announcing the most recent acceptances of the Ardizzonne sketchbooks, the paintings by Constable and Lawrence, the land at Sheringham and the additional Picasso payment.

carried out from time to time by a responsible person such as a proprietor. In higher-risk areas such as kitchens or workshops it is likely that there will also be a need for some limited testing. However, the frequency of this would be far less than for a visual examination.

The Health and Safety Executive has recently produced a clearly written booklet, specially designed for accommodation providers, setting out the facts. I am glad to say also that the HSE is currently consulting members of the tourism industry about the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, as part of a wider review of health and safety at work legislation, prompted by the deregulation initiative.