Friday, May 04, 2007

Small things

This blog's general contention is that our own government approach to the European Union is as much to blame for our woes is somewhat reinforced by a story in The Daily Telegraph today.

Written by Bruno Waterfield, the paper's Brussels correspondent, it rejoices under the title, "Barometer makers hit by mercury ban", recording that: "More than 350 years of unique British tradition and craft is to be consigned to history after the Government decided not to challenge a European Union ban on mercury in barometers."

Worse still, the small but highly skilled barometer industry thought it had won a reprieve from the legislation banning the use of the highly toxic substance in manufacturing after premature claims by Tory MEP Martin Callanan, single-handedly to have saved the industry (See page 12, which includes a claim that the Tory MEPs saved the organ industry).

But now it appears that Lord Rooker, a junior Defra minister, has decided that "the use of mercury in traditional barometers, which are essentially decorative, cannot be considered an essential use" and therefore cannot be excluded from the mercury ban.

This impost is remarked upon in a leader, where the paper deplores the ban. "A seldom-noticed pleasure of life is to tap the barometer in the hall to see if the needle veers from Fair to Changeable. The EU change is for the worse," it opines.

The absurd thing is that out of the 300 tons of mercury used in the UK for industrial purposes each year, making barometers uses about 70lb, compared with the 4 tons placed in the 61 million fluorescent tubes produced in the UK – consumption set to multiply as sales of compact fluorescent lights increase.

Nevertheless, the loss of our craft barometer-making industry is a small thing. But it is from such small things that greater resentments grow.

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