15. AMENDED PROPOSAL FOR A DIRECTIVE
ON MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR IMPROVING THE SAFETY AND HEALTH PROTECTION
OF WORKERS POTENTIALLY AT RISK FROM EXPLOSIVE ATMOSPHERES (7388/97)
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of
the Committee, to Angela Eagle MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Thank you for your informative letter of 21
on the above proposal, which was considered by Sub-Committee B
at its meeting this morning.
In your letter, you set out the Government's
negotiating position in the event that other Member States were
to support the ATEX proposal in its present form. The Committee
shares the Government's concerns and supports the Government's
position on limiting the cost impact of the proposal. We note
that the ATEX proposal will not be given priority during the UK
Presidency. We would be grateful if you could keep us informed
of any developments as and when they may occur.
This letter lifts the scrutiny reserve.
23 March 1998
Letter from Alan Meale MP, Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport
and the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee
I promised to keep you informed of significant
developments on this proposal. Progress in negotiations under
the Austrian Presidency has been very quick and the current position
closely reflects the UK's basic approach of ensuring that duties
on employers are proportionate to the risks involved. I am writing
to ask if you could clear Scrutiny to enable the UK to vote in
favour of political agreement to the proposal at the Social Affairs
Council on 2 December.
My letter of 5 October explained the introduction
of an Austrian Presidency compromise text. That text had been
developed in conjunction with HSE and was close to the agreed
UK fallback position, as set out in Explanatory Memorandum 7388/97.
Since then Austria has pushed ATEX negotiations forward rapidly
in preparation for voting on political agreement at the Social
The proposal which has emerged for discussion
at Council has been amended significantly and the final text is
expected shortly but may not emerge until just before the Council.
I attach a copy of the most recent text for your information.
The final version will contain a small number of amendments to
that and show that most of the reserves made by Member States
have been lifted.
The speed with which negotiations have been
conducted and the regular alterations to the text have meant that
my officials have not been able to finalise the Explanatory Memorandum
requested by Jim Marshall on 28 October.
The main changes (action linked to risk, clear
hierarchy of control measures, removal of the vademecum, removal
of many duplications with other directives) bring the proposal
very close to our established fallback position. It closely reflects
the UK's basic approach of ensuring that duties on employers are
proportionate to the risks involved. The costly and unacceptable
features of the original proposal have been removed. Agreement
with this proposal will help bring about real improvement to the
safety and health protection of workers across the EU at costs
commensurate to the benefits involved, an aim we support and will
continue to support.
The Austrian Presidency are seeking political
agreement to the proposal at the Social Affairs Council on 2 December.
It is in the UK's interest to be able to support the proposal
and for Andrew Smith to vote in favour of political agreement.
Clearly this gives your Committee very little time to consider
this matter and I apologise for that. But I ask for your help
in maintaining the very positive progress we have made.
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of
the Committee, to Alan Meale MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions
Thank you for your letter (undated) and Explanatory
EM dated 8 December on the above proposal which were considered
by Sub-Committee B at its meeting this morning.
In your letter you explain that progress made
meant that there was "very little time" for the Committee
to consider this proposal. The Committee regrets that this was
the case. We recognise, however, that the final outcome reflects
the Government's negotiating line, particularly in the case of
reducing the disproportionate cost of the proposal. While we welcome
this, we would be grateful for further information on (a) the
costs to industry of implementing the current legislation and
(b) the cost of enforcing that legislation effectively.
This letter formally clears the proposal.
21 January 1999
6 Printed in Correspondence with Ministers,
11th Report, Session 1997-98, p28. Back