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Chemicals Regulations: REACH

Volume 685: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

I am pleased to announce that, together with my counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, I have asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to take on the responsibilities of UK competent authority for the proposed new EU chemicals legislation REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) and that it will today be launching a helpdesk for UK business.

The competent authority will provide advice and support to UK business for dealing with the requirements of REACH, liaise with the new European Chemicals Agency in Helsinki and co-ordinate enforcement of the regulations in the UK.

The Health and Safety Executive will be responsible for delivering the functions of the competent authority, working with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and in close partnership with the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service, which will together help ensure delivery of the environmental benefits of REACH. The full competent authority will be operational when REACH enters into force.

The legally designated competent authority will be the Secretary of State in England and the relevant Ministers or departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who will then together delegate the functions of the competent authority to the Health and Safety Executive while maintaining overall ministerial responsibility.

We will be working closely with the Health and Safety Executive and other organisations involved to finalise details of the competent authority role and financial arrangements and we hope to reach final agreement shortly.