Fight to save the British Barometer has been lost

In a key vote today the fight to save the barometer was lost following strong lobbying by Member States and the British Government.

Brussels, June 5th 2007 — The Environment Committee in the European Parliament today reversed its previous position and, in the second reading of the legislation, voted to support the European Commission and Member States’ proposal to ban the production of new mercury barometers following a two year phase out period. The vote today followed strong lobbying by Member State governments to support the ban.

Back in November, at first reading, the European Parliament voted to support an amendment from Conservative MEPs which excluded barometers from the directive but Member States refused to accept this. The British Government offered no support to British small businesses and supported the Commission’s ban.

Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Deputy Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament said:

“I am extremely disappointed at the result of the vote today and am particularly annoyed at the lack of support from the British government who yet again are prepared to see hundreds of years of British tradition destroyed and the production of barometers banned.

“I accept that mercury does need to be controlled but this could have been done by appropriate safety warnings and careful controls which would have allowed the continuation of barometer production, and safeguard many jobs and small businesses in the UK and the rest of Europe.

“This ban brings to an end the tradition of barometer making which was begun in the mid 1600s when mercury barometers were first introduced.

“Barometers are produced by a small number of companies in Europe, predominantly located in the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium who also carry out the repair, maintenance and recycling of historic instruments.

“These businesses will now most probably close down, and the repair and maintenance of thousands of existing instruments in circulation will become impossible.

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