Nanny bans the stick on the wall
Britain's traditional barometer makers and restorers were facing closure last night after the European Parliament voted to uphold a ban on the use of mercury. The decision effectively consigns more than 350 years of unique British tradition and craft to history.
The Parliament's environment committee, including two British Labour MEPs, Linda McAvan and Glenis Wilmott, opted not to challenge a European commission ban on the use of mercury in barometers.
After a two-year phase-out period, production of thermometers and barometers containing mercury will be banned, ostensibly to prevent the toxic metal entering the food chain. The small but highly skilled barometer industry thought it had won a reprieve from the legislation after winning an initial exemption last year but yesterday's decision signals the end of their campaign to save the instruments....
The hopes of a reprieve were dashed when Lord Rooker, the UK minister for sustainable farming and food, failed to back the British barometer makers. He ruled that the use of mercury in traditional barometers, "which are essentially decorative, cannot be considered an essential use".
My old stick barometer is much more use than Lord Rooker, those MEPS and the whole European Parliament put together. The two hundred year old mercury filling hasn't harmed anyone but has provided generations of farmers with useful forecasts and been an object of beauty. You can't say that about them either.