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Chemicals: EU Law

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government has taken to encourage manufacturers, importers and users of chemicals to follow EU rules on chemical control. (209168)

[holding answer 10 June 2008]: On 1 June 2007 the EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) Regulation came into force. It is being implemented in stages over the next 10 years, and will replace much of the previous patchwork of chemicals control legislation with a single framework.

DEFRA, BERR, the UK REACH Competent Authority (the Health and Safety Executive), and the devolved administrations have been working closely since last year to raise awareness of REACH across industry, to encourage compliance and to make sure business can get the most benefit from REACH. This has been through a combination of four national conferences and over 25 regional follow-up events for industry organised by the Competent Authority, the creation of a dedicated REACH website within the Health and Safety Executive’s website, and a national Helpdesk to provide advice and technical information for businesses (contactable by telephone on 0845 408 9575, or e-mail at ukreachca@hse.gsi.gov.uk). In addition, the Government have placed notices in specialised trade press, various online website links and e-newsletters, and an article in the February edition of the Employers’ Bulletin sent out by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to over 1 million UK businesses. These activities will continue as REACH begins to be implemented in the coming months. Industry also has a role to play in REACH awareness-raising through the supply chain.

Enforcement of REACH is the responsibility of each EU member state, and on 2 June the Government launched a public consultation on the proposed UK arrangements. The documents are available on DEFRA’s website. The enforcement arrangements must be in place by 1 December.