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Memorandum Of Understanding On Standards

Volume 32: debated on Wednesday 24 November 1982

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Minister for Trade when he expects the Government to sign the memorandum of understanding on standards with the British Standards Institution proposed in the White Paper "Standards, Quality and International Competitiveness" (Cmnd. 8621).

The memorandum of understanding, which is as follows and which records the joint commitment and intentions of the Government and the British Standards Institution to enhance, strengthen and maintain the national standards system, has been signed today.

The United Kingdom Government and the British Standards Institution (BSI) make the following Memorandum of Understanding which records their joint commitment to enhance, strengthen and maintain the national standards system in the United Kingdom and their intentions in this regard. This Memorandum recognises that BSI is the national standards authority operating under a consolidated Royal Charter and Bye-laws granted in 1981 and confirms the status of British Standards as agreed national technical criteria developed and used to serve the public interest. It takes account of the status of British Standards under the provisions of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976 and also recognises that the formulation of British Standards, through the BSI Committee structure, depends on voluntary participation. By established practise, standardisation in certain specialised areas (for example, food and medicinal products administration) generally lies outside the British Standards system and, where it does, it is outside the scope of this Memorandum.

Article 1

  • (i) The Government will use all appropriate means to support and foster the achievement by BSI of the objects for which it was constituted by Royal Charter. In particular, it will maintain an annual grant-in-aid for the standards work of BSI, the level of which grant-in-aid will take account of the resources subscribed voluntarily to BSI by other bodies and of the benefit to the public interest which derives from the the national standards system.
  • (ii) BSI will account annually for the expenditure of the Government's grant-in-aid in accordance with conditions which shall from time to time be agreed.
  • Article 2

  • (i) BSI will in all its work on the preparation of standards take fully into account the public interest in standards. In particular, it will, in accordance with priorties agreed between BSI and the Government, review and where appropriate revise existing British Standards and seek to ensure that these and where appropriate new standards will be suitable for reference in Government regulations as unambiguous statements of technical requirements.
  • (ii) In developing new and revising existing standards, BSI will have particular regard to the importance of seeking to ensure that such standards will be suitable where appropriate for reference in public purchasing contracts, with especial emphasis on their suitability for certification and quality assurance procedures.
  • (iii) Where the Government needs to make reference to technical specifications and requirements in regulations and other similar instruments, it will where it considers suitable British Standards are available and it is appropriate to do so, incorporate them by reference. Similarly, the Government will where appropriate seek to use British Standards for its purchasing needs rather than develop it own specifications.
  • (iv) Where the Government considers that no existing British Standards are suitable for its purposes, the Government and BSI will seek to agree a timetable for the development of the necessary standards. Where such a timetable has been agreed, the Government will refrain from developing standards or purchasing specifications for these purposes, unless in its view circumstances change, in which case it will consult BSI before so doing. BSI will amend or, if this is not feasible, withdraw or withold publication of any British Standard which may be in conflict with technical regulations.
  • (v) BSI will where appropriate develop suitable graded standards to meet differing needs.
  • Article 3

  • (i) BSI will give priority to requests for standards work which the Government considers to be in the national interest. Such priorities will be accorded in consultation with the standards committee structure and in accordance with a mutually agreed timetable. Provision for such work shall normally be made within the BSI system for resource allocation but where exceptionally work is required urgently, the Government will consider providing additional financial support until such time as the work can be accommodated within the BSI general programme.
  • (ii) Where the development of a revised or new standard requires research and development to be performed in order to establish improved test methods or data, the Government will consider contributing towards the cost.
  • Article 4

  • (i) In the preparation of British Standards, BSI will ensure that its Committees adhere to the guidance and recommendations of BS O 1981 "A Standard for Standards". BSI will ensure that any amendments to this standard do not prejudice the aims and objectives of this Memorandum.
  • (ii) BSI will seek a fair and acceptable balance of all relevant interests in its work and encourage their full participation in producing British Standards which not only reflect sound and modern technical practice but also take fully into account the commercial needs of both manufacturers and users.
  • (iii) The Government will ensure that its representatives participate fully in activities at every level of BSI's Board, Council and Committee structure. In particular, they will make such contributions to the technical, commercial and legislative aspects of standards work as are necessary and appropriate, drawing upon the resources and expertise within Government to do so. In addition, the Government representative on a BSI Technical Committee will, before a draft British Standard is issued for public consultation and at final approval stage, say whether and to what extent it is likely to be acceptable to his Department for regulatory or purchasing purposes.
  • (iv) The principles governing the participation of Government representatives in BSI committees are set out in the "Guidelines for Government Representatives on Standards Committees" published by the Department of Trade. These Guidelines will be reviewed by the Government from time to time in consultation with BSI to ensure that practical participation in BSI's work by Government representatives fully reflects the aims and objectives of this Memorandum.
  • Article 5

  • (i) The Government recognises BSI as the United Kingdorn member of ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) and CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation). In the electrotechnical field, this recognition extends to the British Electrotechnical Committee which forms an integral part of BSI as the Electrotechnical Council of the Institution.
  • (ii) The Government will support BSI's efforts to achieve international harmonisation of standards through these international and European standards organisations, international agreements and other arrangements in the interests of British industry and trade.
  • (iii) The Government will keep BSI informed of any intergovernmental discussions concerned with standards or associated technical regulations, unless there are reasons of confidentiality for not doing so. It will invite BSI where appropriate to participate in such discussions especially those which may lead to intergovernmental agreements concerning standards and will take fully into account: BSI's views on the best means of implementing such agreements. This applies with particular regard to the European Community and its programme for the elimination of technical barriers to trade.
  • (iv) Taking into account obligations arising from adopted directives of the European Community, BSI will promote the development of European standards based as far as possible upon wider international agreements and in a form suitable for reference in Article 100 directives. In matters affecting existing or proposed legislation of the United Kingdom or the European Communities, BSI, after consulting interested parties, will seek to ensure that the position taken by United Kingdom delegations in European standards committees will be consistent with the view taken by the Government after its own consultations and communicated to BSI from time to time.
  • Article 6

  • (i) The Government and BSI will encourage fuller participation by all concerned, especially public purchasing authorities, in the preparation of British Standards; and compliance with British Standards where appropriate in their purchasing decisions, quality assurance requirements and operational procedures.
  • (ii) Both BSI and the Government will exert their best efforts to promote understanding and awareness of standards and their uses through educational, training and promotional activities. Furthermore, BSI and the Government will seek to strengthen national information services on technical regulations, national and international standards and on associated certification and approvals schemes.
  • Article 7

    The Government and BSI will support and encourage any understanding between BSI and other major standards users and other initiatives to support national standards work, which may flow from this Memorandum.

    Article 8

    This Memorandum comes into effect on the date of signing and remains in being unless amended by agreement or terminated by either party following consultation with the other.
    The Rt. Hon. The Lord Cockfield, The Secretary of State for Trade (on behalf of the United Kingdom Government)
    Professor Sir Frederick Warner, The President of BSI (on behalf of the British Standards Institution)