Photo by Theresa Thompson
Business minister takes gloves off in fight against Brussels
This morning I saw a very strange story in the Daily Mail. It claims that Matthew Hancock, the Business Minister has vowed to block a proposal that would mean the price of rubber gloves would soar because of new EU rules. He is reported as saying that “This EU power grab for our kitchen sinks is completely bonkers”. “These over-zealous proposals underscore the need for EU reform and why we must fight Brussels over-regulation to get the best deal for Britain”.
Fighting talk. So what is Brussels trying to foist on us? A requirement for the gloves to be produced only in the EU colours of blue and gold perhaps, or a rule that they must fit both the left and right hand equally? No. The EU is outrageously demanding that gloves which are labelled as being detergent-resistant, should be, well… detergent-resistant. Even more shockingly, they believe that oven gloves should be able to withstand the heat of an oven.
That is more or less the sum of the proposals, which have been around for several years and were agreed by the European Parliament earlier this year. They have come about because the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations, which have been around for around 25 years had a small number of exemptions, such as the armed forces, police and rescue services. One of those exemptions was if the equipment was “for private use providing protection against heat, damp and water.” Now that was causing a problem in the workplace because often businesses such as restaurants or small businesses would buy products intended for the protection of their workers from a supermarket. This meant that they did not necessarily meet the required standards.
The EU has finally got round to looking at this loophole and, quite rightly, decided that there is no reason for it. The new proposals are that, if a product for domestic use is labelled for a specific function then, like a product intended for the workplace, it should be required to be appropriate for that function. In other words a pair of detergent-resistant Marigold gloves should be just that, and oven-gloves should be heat resistant. This will not stop glove companies from being able to sell gloves that are not detergent-resistant, it is just they will not be able to make the claim that they are.
So pretty simple and uncontentious I would have thought but instead we have our Business Minister hitting the roof and using it as a reason for why we must immediately reform the EU to fight this over-regulation.
Total rubbish. Yet the fact that a Minister can make an outrageous claim that this is an “EU power grab” and “completely bonkers” without being even challenged shows the sad state of our press. Why has no newspaper gone back to Hancock and challenged him to clarify if he thinks that the British public should have no protection from unscrupulous manufacturers who make products that are not up to scratch. Whose side is he on? The cowboys or the consumers?
In fact, if a manufacturer is producing oven gloves that can withstand heat of around 200 degrees, or dishwashing gloves that are not going to disintegrate on contact with Fairy Liquid, then they have nothing to fear and no extra costs.
This is a very simple change to a wide-ranging regulation that we have had for a quarter of a century. It closes a small loophole that should never have been there anyway and will be of benefit to consumers, many workers, and of course, all honest glove manufacturers.
You can read the actual proposals here.