CEMENT: THE MARKETING AND USE OF NONYLPHENOL,
NONYLPHENOL ETHOXYLATE (11657/02)
Letter from the Chairman to Michael Meacher
MP, Minister of State (Environment), Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs
Thank you for your Explanatory Memorandum dated
7 November which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on
2 December. We are surprised that there has been such a delay
in depositing this document. Can you tell us why this happened?
Sub-Committee B has scrutinised that part of
the proposal which relates to further constraints on the use of
Chromium VI in the manufacture of cement.
We well understand the potential benefit of
these proposals for those individuals who would, as result of
the measures in the proposed Directive, henceforth be shielded
from the risk of contracting allergic dermatitis. However, as
your Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) demonstrates, there is
considerable uncertainty about the number of new cases reported
each year. One estimate puts forward an average figure of 43 while
your RIA simply assumes that this is a ten-fold under-reporting
of the true position. This does not appear to be a robust basis
for calculating the likely benefits of this proposal to set against
We think that the issue of costs and benefits
needs to be clarified. We should be grateful to learn how the
Government intends to address the concerns the UK cement manufacturing
industry has raised, and how these are weighed in the balance
of the UK's overall interests.
In the meantime, the Scrutiny reserve on this
document is maintained.
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Letter to the Chairman from Michael Meacher
Thank you for your letter of 4 December 2002
which asked why there was a delay in depositing the explanatory
memorandum (EM) for consideration by Sub Committee B.
The deadlines for EMs are set by DEFRA's EU
co-ordination team in conjunction with the Cabinet Office. In
this case the Commission document was published on 16 August 2002
and sent to Council secretariat who issued it on 2 September 2002.
The Cabinet Office commissioned the EM on 24 October 2002 with
a deadline of 7 November 2002, which was duly met. The EM then
went to the House of Commons who cleared it on 27 November and
to the House of Lords on 19 November who sifted it to Sub Committee
B for consideration at its 2 December meeting. As you can see
from this timetable the main delay was between the Council secretariat
and Cabinet Office and due to the delays that occur as a result
of the summer recess.
You also raised the need to clarify the costs
and benefits discussed in the draft initial Regulatory Impact
Assessment (RIA), which had been based on an estimate that the
actual number of cases of allergic dermatitis attributed to chromate
cement each year were 10 times greater than reported in the currently
The response from HSE who lead on this element
of the directive is that there is no national scheme for the reporting
of all cases of occupational dermatitis resulting from cement
exposure. Under these circumstances it is necessary to estimate
the number of cases. When the draft RIA was prepared the best
information available was from the EPIDERM database which is a
voluntary scheme of ill health reporting from some consultant
dermatologists. The "base" estimate of 43 cases derives
from this scheme. The extent to which this figure reflects the
actual incidence of the disease is uncertain and is inevitably
a matter of judgement on which HSE took expert advice.
Using a core sample necessarily requires the
figures to be multiplied up in order to reflect a figure for the
working population or industrial sector as a whole and that was
done on this occasion. There is also known to be a level of under-reporting
of incidents of ill health in the UK construction sector, although
the extent of this under-reporting is also difficult to assess.
The 10-fold increase over the EPIDERM figure quoted in the draft
initial RIA was a legitimate and reasonable assumption of the
number of allergic and mixed allergic and irritant contact dermatitis
cases attributable to chromate cement.
HSE consulted widely on the draft initial RIA
during September and October 2002. It has recently received a
number of responses, most extensively from the UK cement manufacturing
industry. As part of its consultative responsibilities, HSE is
currently considering these responses together with the new evidence
provided by the latest statistics.
HSE has given an undertaking to resubmit the
draft RIA if substantial amendments are required as a result of
consultation, and if appropriate to recommend a revised negotiating
You also asked how the Government intends to
address the concerns of the UK cement manufacturing industry and
how these are weighed in the balance of the UK's overall interests.
HSE has held extensive discussions with the industry and their
concerns have been reflected in the UK's draft negotiating position.
The EU negotiations on this draft directive have now begun and
in discussions the UK has sought to clarify the scope of the proposed
restrictions and continues to seek further discussion and reassurance
on concerns raised by the industry. These negotiations aim to
balance the desired reduction in the number of cases of allergic
contact dermatitis caused by cement with the need to maintain
and enhance the competitiveness of the UK's cement manufacturing
HSE remains in contact with industry representatives
and will continue to consult with them and other stakeholders
as the negotiations progress.
10 March 2003
Letter from the Chairman
Thank you for your letter dated 10 March 2003
which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 17 March.
We are grateful for the explanation that you
have given about the delay in depositing this document.
We need to see the regulatory impact assessment
(RIA) before we can consider lifting the Scrutiny reserve. We
note the points you have made about the basis on which the Health
and Safety Executive (HSE) has estimated the total number of cases
of occupational dermatitis resulting from exposure to cement.
We would welcome an explanation as to why sample figures for cases
have been multiplied tenfold to reach an estimate of cases for
the purposes of the RIA. On the face of it, this multiplier is
neither legitimate, nor reasonable, nor based on scientific procedures.
We note that the HSE received extensive responses
from the UK cement industry and that these are still being considered
by the HSE. We would be interested to know the burden of those
We should be grateful for a response to the
above points and for an account of negotiations before these papers
are taken at the next council. In the meantime, the Scrutiny reserve
on this document is maintained.
21 March 2003