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Building Regulations (Electrical Safety)

Volume 403: debated on Thursday 10 April 2003

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
(Mr. Christopher Leslie)

We published a consultation on 21 May 2002 on proposals to introduce into the Building Regulations 2000 new electrical safety requirements for dwellings. We have taken this course because of concerns about increasing risks of electrical accidents in the home. This is coupled with the apparent absence of voluntary controls or legislation that effectively reaches much domestic electrical installation work. Although it will be some time yet before the analysis of the response to the consultation can be completed, and final decisions on whether amendments to the Regulations can be made, I am pleased to say that preliminary analysis indicates our proposals have broad support and the signs suggest that positive progress may be possible.The consultation document contained a draft. Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) and a proposed new Approved Document (AD) giving guidance on how a safety requirement could be met. The draft RIA made it clear that the proposals would probably be too costly without a new system of competent electrical firms able to self-certify their work, and the AD included guidance on the circumstances when self-certification (and the avoidance of much of the regulatory burden) would be appropriate. Consultees strongly agree that self-certification is a vital component and I therefore encourage those who are already working to develop a national competent firms system to press ahead.There are technical, administrative and commercial issues to resolve, no doubt. But I hope this early statement helps to stiffen industry's resolve to complete the task of bringing large numbers of electrical firms into a satisfactory system sooner rather than later. In the meantime the analysis of the consultation response will continue, including a careful review of the arguments in the RIA. The decision on whether or not to introduce the proposed requirements will depend on the final RIA and the prospect of a viable self-certification system, in place ready for implementation, will be one of the key factors influencing this.