HC Deb 05 December 1996 vol 286 cc753-4W
Mr. Austin-Walker

To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what assessment he has made of the possible impact of amendment 8 to the proposed EU pressure equipment directive upon companies employing an automatic process for the building of pressure vessels; [7729]

(2) what representations he has received regarding the proposed EU pressure equipment directive; and if he will make a statement. [7728]

Mr. Ian Taylor

The proposed EU pressure equipment directive is one of a series creating a free market in products. In negotiations on the directive, the Government have been seeking to maintain health and safety, while ensuring that the requirements are no more onerous or complex for manufacturers than necessary. One important principle has been to provide manufacturers with as wide a choice of conformity assessment procedures as possible, including the use of properly assessed and monitored quality assurance systems.

The European Parliament's amendment No. 8 seeks to restrict the use of quality assurance by requiring additional, independent product inspection for equipment in the higher risk categories. The Government are not persuaded that the amendment has benefits for health and safety but consider that increases in costs are likely for a large number of manufacturers, including those employing automatic processes for the building of pressure vessels. The Council did not agree with the European Parliament's amendments and the proposal has been referred for conciliation. During conciliation the Council will seek to persuade the European Parliament that the conformity assessment provisions of the common position text are adequate as they stand and that this amendment should be withdrawn.

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