Select Committee on European Communities Report



2.  PROPOSED DIRECTIVE RELATING TO SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR VEHICLES USED FOR THE CARRIAGE OF PASSENGERS COMPRISING MORE THAN EIGHT SEATS IN ADDITION TO THE DRIVERS SEAT AMENDING DIRECTIVE 70/156/EC (9734/97)

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to The Baroness Hayman, Minister for Roads, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  Thank you for your letter of 8 December 1997[2] on the above proposal, which was considered by Sub-Committee B at its meeting on Thursday, 22 January.

  In your letter you sought to clarify two issues raised by the Committee. The first relates to the effect of the Directive on the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The Committee accepts the Government's position on this point.

  The second issue relates to the "optional" nature of the proposed Directive. Paragraph 3 of your letter states that "national requirements may be operated in parallel with the Directive and this may mean that local manufacturers have a competitive advantage if those standards are different". The Committee remains unclear what is meant by this statement. If national requirements, such as regulations made under the DDA, may be higher than those contained in the Directive, the Committee considers that this would mean that local manufacturers would suffer a competitive disadvantage. As you state in the same paragraph, the Directive would give manufacturers a guarantee that they will be able to sell their products in any Member State.

  The Committee would therefore appreciate a more detailed clarification on this issue. In the meantime, this letter maintains the scrutiny reserve.

26 January 1998

Letter from The Baroness Hayman, Minister for Roads, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 26 January, in response to mine of 8 December, in which your Committee seeks clarification on two issues relating to the above mentioned proposed Directive.

  My previous letter set out the framework for approval of buses and coaches once the Directive has been agreed. In areas where the proposed Directive does not ensure adequate standards, we are actively negotiating to ensure that it is amended.

  National standards could, however, differ from those contained in the proposed Directive which operators may find preferable, for instance more flexible seating arrangements. In this case, local manufacturers could continue to provide vehicles which conform to national regulations and would find it easier to do so than manufacturers in other Member States.

  The approval regime for vehicles that meet national regulations may also be perceived to be simpler than obtaining an approval to the Directive. Currently in the UK this involves inspection of each vehicle to ensure standards are being met. Vehicles which fail to meet national regulations when inspected have to be modified by the manufacturer. Once again UK based manufacturers will find it easier to do this than those whose manufacturing facilities are based in another Member State.

   I hope you find this clarification useful and I am happy to provide any further assistance you require.

4 February 1998

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to The Baroness Hayman, Minister for Roads, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  Thank you for your letter of 4 February on the above proposal, which was considered by Sub-Committee B at its meeting this morning.

  In your letter you sought to clarify further the "optional" nature of the proposed Directive. The Committee's main concern was that national regulations, if different from those contained in the Directive, could require local manufacturers to produce vehicles to a higher standard than vehicles manufactured in another Member State. As you state in previous correspondence (your letter of 8 December 1997), the Directive would give manufacturers a guarantee that they will be able to sell their products in any Member State. This could put local manufacturers at a disadvantage relative to manufacturers in other Member States who would not have to meet the higher national requirements in order to sell their vehicles. Your letter of 4 February did not satisfy the Committee's concerns on this issue.

  The Committee therefore requests a more detailed clarification on this issue. In the meantime, this letter maintains the scrutiny reserve.

9 March 1998

Letter from The Baroness Hayman, Minister for Roads, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 9 March, in response to mine of 4 February, in which your Committee seeks further detailed clarification of the "optional" nature of the above mentioned proposed Directive.

  Perhaps it would be helpful to review the basis of the regulations for bus approvals within the European Community. Currently each Member State has its own set of national regulations which manufacturers have to meet to sell their vehicles within that State. The Directive, will mean that manufacturers who meet the technical provisions contained therein will automatically be able to sell their vehicles in any other Member State, rather than building to fifteen different specifications as at present.

  Thus a UK manufacturer wishing to sell abroad will be able to either build vehicles to the national regulations appropriate to that Member State, or build them to the standards in the Directive, as all Member States will have to accept vehicles meeting the Directive specifications as well as those which meet their localspecifications. The Directive will, therefore, make it easier for UK manufacturers to sell abroad, compared to the present situation where local standards differ from the Directive. As regards UK manufacturers selling in the UK they will also have the choice of the Directive standards or the UK ones.

  I hope this clarifies the optional nature of the Directive.

24 March 1998

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to The Baroness Hayman, Minister for Roads, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  Thank you for your letter dated 24 March on the above proposal which was considered by Sub-Committee B at its meeting on Thursday, 23 April.

  In your letter you provide an explanation of the optional nature of the proposed Directive. In paragraph 3 you state that United Kingdom manufacturers selling in the United Kingdom will "have the choice of the Directive standards or the United Kingdom ones". In your previous letter dated 8 December on the same proposal you stated that "we will be obliged to accept those buses and coaches that meet the requirements of it [the Directive]". The Committee accepts your explanation of the optional nature of the Directive, but remain concerned that this may render domestic provisions made under the Disability Discrimination Act redundant if they are higher than those in the Directive. We accept, however, that you are concerned to raise the provisions of the Directive in line with those of the Disability Discrimination Act.

  We would appreciate being kept informed of any further progress made on this proposal. In the meantime, this letter lifts the scrutiny reserve.

28 April 1998


2   ibid. p42. Back


 
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