§ Mr. Meacher
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on which date he approved the draft Carriage of Explosives by Road Regulations.
§ Mr. Flynn
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he expects that the Governments of Germany and the Netherlands will continue to insist on the provision of locally trained drivers on British vehicles carrying explosives, following the introduction of the new Carriage of Explosives by Road Regulations.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
Under the regulations the driver and any attendant must have received adequate training and instruction in the dangers to which the explosives carried may give rise, the action to be taken in an emergency and their duties under the regulations. A written record of the training must be kept. The CBI has prepared an appropriate training course. We intend to use this course as the basis for negotiation of reciprocal recognition with other authorities.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
The new regulations have been laid today; an advance copy of the associated approved code of practice has been placed in the Library.444W
Since the regulations are necessarily in part somewhat technical, the Department has also provided the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments with an additional memorandum on the changes being made and the ways in which these seek to improve the pre-1974 health and safety legislation in this particular field.
In making the regulations in the aftermath of the Peterborough incident, and following further discussion with the HSE, one change has been made to the draft code of practice. The guidance in the proposed code would have allowed the normal requirement for double manning to be waived in certain circumstances and where there was a means of radio communication in the cab. In the light of the discussions in the House on 23 March and additional comments received about the use of new technology to safeguard loads, the Health and Safety Commission has been invited to consider further that proposal.
The question of mixed loads has been considered again. As I explained in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) on 4 April at columns 66–67, the new regulations aim to ensure that the possibility of ignition of any kind of explosion is not increased during carriage by the mixing of the load and that the consequences of an incident are not made worse by so doing. The main problem is fire, and the point is that high explosives are likely to burn to detonation whether detonators and other items are present or not. The new regulations proposed by the Health and Safety Executive deal satisfactorily with this.
As explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr) on 4 April at column 67, there is a requirement in the new regulations for the route to be followed to be agreed with the relevant chief officers of police when a large load of the most dangerous type of explosive is being carried. To require prior notification or agreement on routes for all dangerous goods, as has been suggested, would involve the emergency services in masses of additional paperwork which would not provide overall benefit in safety terms.