Is this true?

But herein lies Defra\’s amazing error. The legislation it depends on to make this claim, regulation 244/2009, refers quite specifically to \”household lamps\”. So the EU has not made it illegal to \”place on the market\” bulbs which are not intended for household use. Defra thus has no power to ban the import or sale of incandescent bulbs for use in shops, offices, factories, outhouses or anywhere which isn\’t a \”household\”. And how are shops to decide, when asked for such bulbs, where a customer wishes to use them?

EU legislation is so piecemeal and complex (deliberately so) that it can be extremely difficult to work out exactly what is the legal position at any one time.

But it wouldn\’t surprise me at all to find that the above is true.

And if it is, it just takes us back to a corollary of Hayek\’s old socialist computation problem: a modern economy is so complex that intervention in it is impossible to manage in the level of detail that the planners aim at.

4 comments on “Is this true?

  1. Rule of thumb-based assessment: it’s by Booker, so it’s lies.

    Research-based assessment, reading the directive, the DEFRA site, and the LIF website, the government is implementing the EU directive correctly (ie only banning the bulbs for household applications), but its consumer media PR campaign is simplifying the message.

  2. The wording of the directive is loose and slightly ambiguous, although it’s intention was clear enough that I suspect a court will accept it.

    The intent of the directive is that the word “household” is used to mean something like “ordinary” or “everyday”, and that the real definition of a “household lamp” is that it not be a “special purpose lamp”.

    For example your infrared TV remote control or the laser in your DVD player meet the technical definition of a “lamp”, but they’re not intended for “household room illumination” “to enhance visibility within that space” so they don’t count.

    The other problem is the word “intended”. What I think the directive means is “intended by design to be suitable for”. It could be interpreted to mean “intended by the purchaser to be used for”.

    Courts tend to try to use what they think was intended by the legislators, rather than over-pedantic literal parsing. So I’d be fairly sure it wouldn’t succeed. Mr Booker is making the error of taking what EU regulations says literally, and also the popular error of thinking that catching grammatical ambiguities in legal definitions would enable you to get let off in court. Most of the time it’s fortunate that it doesn’t work that way.

    However, if you do interpret it as meaning an actual household, and “intended” by the purchaser, then my reading of the directive is that you could interpret it not to apply to lamps intended for illuminating non-household areas.

    More than anything, it’s a good excuse for another article reminding people that this totalitarian ban is about to arrive. And if the government are forced to clarify, that keeps it in the public eye even longer. So that’s a good thing.

    Directive here.

  3. john b // Aug 30, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Rule of thumb-based assessment: it’s by Booker, so it’s lies.

    Research-based assessment, […] the government is implementing the EU directive correctly (ie only banning the bulbs for household applications), but its consumer media PR campaign is simplifying the message.

    …so let me get this straight, Booker is a liar, but DEFRA are merely ‘simplifying the message’ when they suggest that the bulbs have been banned outright.

    Another example of ‘one rule for people I don’t like…’

  4. John B says:

    the government is implementing the EU directive correctly (ie only banning the bulbs for household applications).

    But isn’t that exactly Booker’s point? DEFRA statements aside, even after the ban Average Joe can still go into a shop and buy a 100W incandescant bulb because as far as Mr Shopkeeper knows he could be buying it for legitimate (as defined by the eu/DEFRA) purposes.

    All Booker is doing is highlighting yet another example of what he sees as the poor legislative processes of the eu/UK. Once again we are presented with a noble gesture backed up by a badly written piece of legislation.

    And it is badly written because it fails to prevent people from doing precisely the thing it was intended to prevent them from doing and no amount of DEFRA B/S is going to change that.

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