HC Deb 15 July 1997 vol 298 cc137-8W
Fiona Mactaggart

To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what instructions she plans to give to the United Kingdom representatives at the European Commission meeting on 8 July to discuss guidelines for implementation of the low voltage directive; and if she will make a statement; [7163]

(2) what consultations she plans to have with industry about changing the scope of the low voltage directive; [7164]

(3) what factors underlay her Department's decision in 1995 that cable management products should not remain within the scope of the low voltage directive; and if she has plans to review this decision. [7165]

Mr. Battle

My officials sought to establish a clear understanding of the position on the guidance on issues such as the application of the Directive to cable management products, components and the CE marking requirements.

The scope of the Directive has not changed since its adoption in 1973 and I have no plans to consult on this particular issue. However, the Department's Standards and Technical Regulations Directorate recently consulted with interested parties and met with industry representatives, on a draft European Commission guidance document about the Low Voltage Directive.

The Department also plans a further meeting with industry representatives to discuss the proposed Commission guidance at the earliest mutually convenient time.

Although the Directive was adopted in 1973, it was only after the adoption of the CE Marking Directive in 1993, that an approach was first made to the Department by a manufacturer of plastic conduit, for an opinion as to whether the Directive covered such items.

Cable management products, such as plastic conduit, will fall within the scope of the Low Voltage Directive only if they are items of electrical equipment as described within the meaning of Article 2 of the Directive. In order to answer the enquiry a detailed analysis was undertaken by my Department to clarify the meaning of electrical equipment. As the Directive does not define what is meant by electrical equipment it is necessary to base this on the ordinary English language usage of the term in the context in which it appears in the Directive. The natural meaning of these words and hence the scope of the Directive, implies a product which operates between the voltage limits set, is not an electrically passive product and has the potential to generate electrical, mechanical, thermal or other hazards, all arising from its electrical, nature which must be protected against, as required by Article 2 of the Directive.

At a meeting of member States on 8 and 9 July to discuss a proposed European Commission guidance document on the Directive, the European Commission requested that the Department review its position. My officials are presently carrying out a further review and I hope that a mutually acceptable form of wording can be found for inclusion in the guidance.

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