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Cableway Installations (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Volume 799: debated on Thursday 26 September 2019

Motion to Approve

Moved by

My Lords, this instrument is being made under powers conferred by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and will give clarity and certainty to industry by fixing deficiencies in two pieces of legislation that will arise when the UK leaves the EU. The first is EU Regulation 2016/424—the “EU regulation”—which is a directly applicable EU regulation. The second is the Cableway Installations Regulations 2018, or SI 2018/816—the “2018 regulations”—which implemented the EU regulation.

Cableways are a mixture of funicular railways and aerial transport systems, such as ski lifts, for the transport of passengers. They are important for tourism and local communities. The majority, around 70, are in snow sports resorts in Scotland. They include chair lifts, surface tow systems, rope tows and passenger transport systems such as the Emirates line in London.

These regulations will not apply to all cableways. Those that entered into service before 1 January 1986 and are classed as historic, cultural or heritage installations, such as the Great Orme Tramway in Wales and the Babbacombe Cliff Railway, are excluded from the scope of the 2018 regulations and the EU regulation.

The 2018 regulations amend the EU regulation designed to harmonise national laws regarding the design and manufacture of cableways equipment to be used in installations designed to carry passengers. The EU regulation is in part directly applicable in the UK, so it forms part of domestic law, and the 2018 regulations supplement the EU regulation where further detail is required. The EU regulation and the 2018 regulations ensure conformity of standards of cableway components across the EU, require the Secretary of State to notify the EU Commission of the notified body responsible for carrying out conformity assessments to ensure that cableway systems, subsystems and their components meet EU harmonised standards, and require the Secretary of State to set rules on the design, construction and entry into service of new cableway installations.

The 2018 regulations and the EU regulation contain a number of elements that will be inappropriate after the UK leaves the European Union. The EU withdrawal Act will retain the EU regulation in its entirety in UK law on exit day. The instrument before your Lordships makes changes that are necessary for the legislation to continue to function correctly after exit day. The majority of the corrections are to amend European Union references and terminology to domestic references, alongside removing requirements to notify matters to the EU Commission.

The most significant change in this instrument is the new power for the Secretary of State to designate standards after exit day. There are no immediate plans or need to exercise this power, but it is sensible to make provision for the future. Until this power is exercised, products that conform to the current EU harmonised standards will continue to be considered compliant with the EU regulation as amended by this instrument. Any introduction of national standards would be subject to full consultation with industry and appropriate technical and safety bodies.

The other significant change is that the definition of “approved body” replaces the definition of “notified body”. The effect is that the Secretary of State can approve bodies to carry out a conformity assessment. This is the process demonstrating whether the essential requirements of the regulation relating to cableway components have been fulfilled. There are no such approved bodies in the UK at present so this will have no immediate practical significance to industry and, as with standards, EU notified bodies will continue to be recognised until such time as there are designated standards and a UK body is approved. The other changes are mostly minor and technical in nature.

In the event that we leave the EU without a deal on 31 October, these regulations are necessary to maintain the status quo after exit day and will ensure the continuity of operations and safety for operators and passengers. The Government’s objective is to avoid uncertainty for cableway operators following exit day, which I hope noble Lords agree is a sensible approach. I beg to move.

My Lords, I was tempted to ask whether this included zipwires, to make sure that people going down them got to the bottom. More importantly, I know from my own family that there are more high-wire facilities in parks and adventure parks. Children go on them above the trees; they are great for exploration and daring. Does this include that type of facility? I should probably have listened to the Minister even more carefully. Who inspects these facilities now? Is it local authorities? How is it done? How are we sure that the regulations, whatever they are, are not just enforced but checked? I suspect that these facilities will increase in number over the years.

I am quite concerned that because pre-1896 cableways are termed cultural, we therefore do not particularly worry about health and safety around them. Perhaps the Minister would like to explain that as well.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for explaining the purposes and objectives of these regulations dealing with the components necessary for the installation of cableways. They seek to establish parallel processes to those in the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Ensuring the safety of cableways is obviously critically important, and we support the instrument’s purpose.

The instrument allows for the Health and Safety Executive and the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland to take over the role of enforcement body. As I understand it, the UK Accreditation Service will then ensure that an assessment is made by an approved body so that the components for installation meet the required standard. As the Minister said, the setting of standards in the event of no deal will now sit with the Secretary of State as a new extended power.

I have one or two points that I would like to raise. As the noble Lord, Lord Teverson pointed out, the Explanatory Memorandum refers to the distinction between cableways that entered into service after 1 January 1986 and those that entered into service prior to 1 January 1986, with those entering into service before it classed as historic cultural or heritage installations. What legislation covers these and how does it vary from the 2018 regulations and the directly applicable EU regulation? Indeed, why are the regulations that apply apparently determined only by a cut-off date of 1 January 1986? In other words, is there any great difference in the assessment or the standard that is expected between a cableway that entered into service before 1 January 1986 and one that came into service after that date?

Secondly, the Explanatory Memorandum—and, indeed, the Minister—made reference to conformity assessment bodies, which currently, as the name implies, undertake assessment work. Since I am not clear in my own mind, can she tell us how these bodies are made up? Could she give examples of these bodies, and are there any based in the United Kingdom or are they all based in Europe? I really am not very clear on that point and would be grateful if she could explain that in a bit of further detail, at least for my benefit.

As the Minister has said, the statutory instrument also provides for a regime in the future of approved bodies. It refers to a UK regime being set up to replace the present arrangements. I appreciate that she said that the Government do not intend to go down this road at the moment, but when is it actually envisaged that a UK regime might be introduced? What is the expected cost? Is it intended that it will be self-financing through the fees it charges or will it be expected to make a surplus? Will the fees be higher, lower or the same as now? How long will it actually take physically to set up a UK regime which, presumably, in the event of no deal, will happen at some stage in the future?

The Explanatory Memorandum also makes reference to the current European CE marking procedure. It also states that, in the event of no deal, the CE certification marker will transfer, at least at some stage, to the UK to be replaced by a UK marker. Do the Government then expect the EU to recognise this UK marker? The statutory instrument also states that there will be no divergence from EU standards for the industry to start with. Do the Government expect standards to diverge later on and, if so, why? If not, in some cases at least, how will the UK legislation keep pace with any changes in EU legislation?

As the documentation that we have received indicates, Transport for London and the Scottish snow sports sector have raised concerns about fee-setting and, in the case of the Scottish snow sports sector, current fees. I appreciate that the Government’s answer is that this instrument does not actually deal with or affect the issue of fees, but nevertheless it is referred to in the documentation and the Explanatory Memorandum. What comfort, therefore, can the Government provide on this point about the level of fees now and in the future?

Finally, why are we dealing with this SI only now? We could actually have left the EU with no deal at the end of March, yet we are dealing with this issue only at this stage at the end of September. Is this due to a government oversight, and it should have been dealt with before the end of March? Are there any further Department for Transport SIs relating to a no-deal situation still to be approved by Parliament, apart from the one that follows this?

My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Teverson and Lord Rosser, for their contributions to this short debate. A number of issues have been raised; I will do my best to respond to them, but if I am not able to in great detail I will happily set out an answer in writing and put a copy in the Library.

I turn first to the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. These regulations do not apply to outdoor, adventure or leisure places. I have to say, I went to one once and will never go again—one hurts afterwards. I think they do not apply because these places do not have actual mechanical structures within them; if they were to do so, the regulations would of course apply.

On the important issue of the distinction between the heritage installations and other installations, I will probably have to write to both noble Lords for a proper understanding of how the date of 1986 was arrived at. I suspect that when the regulations came into place, a number of these cultural and heritage-type organisations tried to make themselves distinct, as is often the case when one is dealing with these sorts of regulations. I will write to the noble Lords on the circumstances of how that happened. In 2014 the department obtained agreement from the member states that our heritage systems could remain exempt from the EU regulations, because they are dated between 1875 and 1974; they are non-commercial but important cultural systems. The legislation which applies to these systems is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, so they are inspected under a different regime.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, also mentioned the future—what is going to happen. We do not expect any new installations in the short to medium term, and therefore there is no particular rush to be able to have a new system in place, but I will return to that in a minute. He is quite right that the conformity assessment bodies are EU-based and can be used. They will continue to be used if we need them, but at this moment no new installations are expected. However, should that be the case and it looks like new installations will be forthcoming, we will need to look at what a future regime might look like, although we could use the existing regulations.

The noble Lord asked a number of questions around cost, what this might look like and what the fees would be, which I cannot answer because we do not know what the future regime would look like. However, I can say that any future regime would of course be set up only after significant consultation, particularly with the Scottish snow sports industry, on the nature and type of regulation that would be most helpful. Once we have had that consultation, the Secretary of State would then look into what the regulations would look like and how they would be enforced.

On the CE marking, which the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, mentioned, the UK mark will be identical to the CE and based on the regulations as they currently exist. As to whether or not the EU will recognise it, I am not entirely sure that that is wholly relevant, because these will be UK-based installations which will not be moving—they will not be able to go to the EU. People coming here would know that if it had a UK mark at that point it was harmonised with the EU regulations.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, mentioned some issues that have been raised over fees. Fees are not covered by this SI. However, it is an interesting issue. I know that the Scottish snow sports industry is disappointed in the level of fees. The reason why they are perhaps higher than the industry would like is because the number of engineers able to do the checks is quite small. However, it plans to increase the number of engineers and we hope that in time the fees will adjust accordingly.

The final point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, was on the timing and prioritisation of SIs. This SI was deemed to be less a priority than some of the other transport SIs which would have had an immediate impact had the UK left without a deal on 31 March. This establishes the status quo. Nothing changes immediately. The system of regular inspections continues anyway. Forgive me—the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, asked who does the inspections now. The Health and Safety Executive does regular inspections, as one would expect. I do not want to say that this SI was deprioritised, but it came slightly further down the list. Are there any others? Yes, there are—ones that have been deprioritised, but others where EU legislation has changed over previous months. Therefore, others will need to be addressed over time and I am sure they will come before your Lordships shortly.

Motion agreed.