Why does the EU like new products to perform worse than older ones?


Whilst most of the media and many people are worried and thinking about war and peace in the Middle East and Ukraine, up pops the EU with its latest idea. It has banned powerful vacuum cleaners.

Why? If people want to buy them and manufacturers wish to make them, why shouldn’t they? Has the regulator thought about the possibility that a less powerful vacuum cleaner might not pull up all the dirt in a timely way? Might it not need more passes of the carpet to get them clean? This could use more energy than having a more powerful machine in the first place.

This change follows on from others which mean that  we have a generation of products that often work less well than the older ones they replaced. New light bulbs offer less light than the older banned ones. As a result, far from saving energy, people are driven to go and buy extra reading lights and lamps to boost the light available. Newer toilet flushes flush less water. As a result you often have to flush them two or three times to clean sufficiently, delaying you and wasting more water and effort than the older better ones.

Some of the changes for the worse are home made, like the BBC going digital. Their digital switch meant I lost two older tvs completely that were working fine before the switch. The new digital one I bought gave me several months of appalling pictures with frozen frames and lost pictures during the transition. Sometimes the machine has  a hissy fit and you have to sit down and re programme it before it will function again. Now it seems the BBC have either worsened their normal radio signals or have some problems with them, so presumably more people will  be tempted to buy the unloved digital radios in the hope they  might work.

Most modern technology is great. Most things about the private sector world of products and services is greatly improved on the offers of the last century. Yet when government gets involved in setting too many standards, banning things and changing the delivery mechanisms we can end up with worse and dearer. Just leave us alone.

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  1. alan jutson,
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    It will not stop at vacuum cleaners, they are also looking at many other appliances and fittings.
    I think showers are also proposed for an EU makeover soon.

    None of this helps the environment, because you waste more energy making a new one, because you have to throw the old away (radio, TV) than simply running the old one until their natural life expiry.

    See we are thinking of charging all diesel cars, and petrol vehicles produced before 2006 an entry fee to certain towns and cities in the UK, on the grounds that they cause greater pollution.
    That will help trade in those areas !

    Perhaps the simple answer would be to restrict the number of people entering the UK, as more people create more pollution, due to their purchase of all of the above.

    Does anyone even begin to think these things through, before they pass these regulations ?

  2. Antisthenes
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    The Greens and all the other assorted loony lefties are now dominant politically and we are having their ideologies and therefore their policies and practices foisted upon us. Of course it is our own fault as we have in the main fallen for their promises that the state is the best arbiter of what is in our best interests and so allow them to form statist multi-layered governments and to allow only public opinion that they approve of. The net effect is to minimise choice, to regiment our affairs and to pursue social ideological goals regardless of the economic and democratic costs. This in turn leads to incompetence, inefficiency, waste and mediocrity.

    To change this situation then a return to a greater proportion of personal responsibility, self-reliance and a considerable reduction in the size and role of government is required. That however requires the public to put in much more effort into their own daily lives and reject the culture of dependency and entitlement that is now the vogue. This they will not do as the left have promised all something for nothing, the state will provide from cradle to the grave, which is too attractive to reject. Eventually this something for nothing will be seen for the fallacy it is but by then it will be too late and our economies, societies and our personal liberties will all have been destroyed.

    We are already seeing some of the damage that the public falling for the lefties great con tricks is doing. We are seeing the rise to power in the West of left leaning leaders who do not have a clue as to what they are doing their foreign policies are a prime example. The push for political and monetary union in Europe which we can all see is proving disastrous for the EU as economies are being wrecked and technocracy is replacing democracy is another example. In Europe production costs are increasing due to the imposition of draconian rules, laws, taxes and regulations stifling competition and undermining the ability to create wealth. Yet another example and the list could go on and on.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      This is right wing deluded nonsense without mentioning a vacuum cleaner once!

      • Edward2
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        Is there such a thing as left wing deluded nonsense Baz?
        Or is this world all just perfect and right?

        • Bazman
          Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          Same as right wing deluded nonsense and socialism for the rich.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

            So yes then.

      • Kenneth
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Baz, that’s the problem with many socialists, they just don’t get it.

        Antisthenes’s comment is a decent summary of what is wrong and what leads to the vacuum cleaner problem and many others.

        The unemployment across Europe is disgusting and yet these socialists continue to impose it with its failed ideology. It is heartbreaking.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 25, 2014 at 7:04 am | Permalink

          How do you explain all this lefty privatisation putting billions into the hands of the rich many foreigners that is then transferred to offshore tax havens whilst the public pays higher fares and bills and more in tax to subsidise them. This is lefty thinking, socialism for the rich, backed by right wing fools and if you think this will be progress in the healthcare system you will see how the public react to the one service they really benefit from and are employed by.
          Dressing up every problem as one by lefty types who do not understand is clearly shown by many posts on this site and their belief that clear science such as KW/h can be in some way ridiculed as lefty thinking when they are proved wrong. Global warming beliefs being the same, but on a bigger scale.

      • Anonymous
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Bazman – Why haven’t you – or the EU – got onto ironing ? Nothing can be more wasteful of electricity nor more pointless. It does nothing but make clothes look good rather than improve their function, whereas at least vacuuming has a sanitary purpose and increases the longevity of flooring.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

          Ironed underpants maketh man. The socialism of the EU and it’s support for big banking is the problem.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          The EU also needs to have a single language (English). Multiple languages are a dreadful waste of energy, translators and people’s time. Clearly it has huge health and safely risks from confusion too. Yet the EU never address this issue either. Indeed they are more keen on bringing virtually dead languages back to life.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 26, 2014 at 6:59 am | Permalink

            You propose to force foreign languages to be spoken. Imagine, if you can and I suspect you cannot, if you where rich Bavarian and being told this? ‘Absurd’ ‘pointless’ ‘EU nonsense’ and so on. From a man who sees any regulation as stopping the market. Boneheaded magical thinking. You are excelling yourself.

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        While Professor Redwood distracts us over the wattage of vacuum cleaners the EU has long shifted from messing with the size and shape of our bananas to the shape and size of our population and – incidentally – whether or not we can issue Jihadi John with an ASBO.

        All roads lead to the Treaty of Rome.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Excellent post Antisthenes

  3. Alan Wheatley
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    As to vacuum cleaners, from what I heard on the BBC the EU clearly does not understand the concept of “efficiency”. It has nothing to do with the rated power of the device.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      That is the EU’s point. Lowering wattage to increase efficiency and some of the companies have some explaining to do as to why they have higher wattage and lower suction A wattage rating isn’t always an indicator of what’s being drawn from the plug socket though. Electric motors are quite efficient with 70-90% efficiency.
      The EU ruling and their thinking is explained quite well here. Harrumph this.
      Though facts a are not what many of you deluded magical thinking right whiners are about is it?

      • Tony Baverstock
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        I also understand in the interest of climats efficency the EU is planning to regulate socks sales. In future socks will only be available in grey and in 2 sizes large and small. I belive the underpants directive is still being negotiated.

        • Vanessa
          Posted August 26, 2014 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

          Very good comment !! I have always said that the EU will soon legislate on how long we can sit on our potties and if this is set at 10 mins then we will not be able to sit for any longer !

          I await bra sizes in large and small next – that should be interesting !

          It just shows they have nothing better to do than try and control EVERYTHING in our lives – we should put them all in a sealed room so they talk to each other and we cannot hear them !

      • David Price
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        The companies have no explaining to do, if these aspects are important to a customer then the customer will chose a different product. It is the EU that is at fault as it has no business interfering in this way and restricting freedom of choice.

        Next it will be the maximum speed your kettle can boil water, the amount of toilet paper you can use per session … all quite acceptable to the socialist mindset I imagine.

        By the way vacuum cleaners are compared now using AirWatts, a measure of their suction peformance, not Watts.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

          Non scientific nonsense. The speed a kettle can boil water is how many kWh the kettle uses or air watts as you point out. Products should not be sold according to sceintific knowledge. You both prove this fact. How do you hold down the jobs you do? A fact not an insult. LOL! Idiots. Reply needed.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

            You are wrong Baz
            The performance of a kettle depends of the amount of water in the kettle, the ambient temperature of the inputted water, the room temperature, the thermo efficiencies of the materials used to make the kettle.
            Its all about engineering and science.
            And its a lot more complicated than you imagine.

          • Anonymous
            Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

            Bazman – My reply is your non-reply to my pertinent question about ironing:

            Were it not for the Leftist fashionistas ironing would not be exempt from Leftist/BBC/EU bullying over other sorts of consumption.

          • Anonymous
            Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

            Were it not for the Leftist fashionistas, ironing would not be exempt from Leftist/BBC/EU bullying over other sorts of consumption.

            (Comma needed for clarification – Lifelogic to note.)

          • David Price
            Posted August 25, 2014 at 5:28 am | Permalink

            “The speed a kettle can boil water is how many kWh the kettle uses”

            Correct-ish as it also depends on how much water there is, starting temperature of the water etc – if they ban 1.6kW+ vacuum cleaners why wouldn’t they ban 3kW kettles on the same misguided principles?

            “.. or air watts as you point out”

            Incorrect – airwatts is a metric invented to represent suction power not the electrical power appropriate for a kettle (a Watt is a unit of power not neccessarily electrical power)

            “Products should not be sold according to sceintific knowledge. yada yada”

            If you are trying to say that a consumer shouldn’t have to understand all the ramificationas and principles of how a product works but must trust the state to dictate what they can and should buy then you are in the wrong era and the wrong country. In this case however the consumer could simply compare lifetime costs (capital and running costs) and make the decision. You appear to have donejust that for a washing machine and boiler.

            But why should you and I pay extra taxes simply because somone is too lazy to do some simple arithmetic for themselves, all that des is reward and reinforce the laziness.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 25, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            All things being equal it depends on the Kw/hr how fast the water boils. There can be some efficiency savings by using a plastic kettle with an exposed element. A 3kw kettle would use no more electricity to boil the same amount of water than a 2kw kettle or even a 1kw. Elementary. End of.
            A vacuum cleaner has more variables than a kettle.
            The customer should not require technical knowledge to choose the correct product for their needs. Just the intended use and cost. The manufacture should provide the information required and if they do not want to and want to hide all this with smoke and mirrors should be forced to by regulation.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        Lowering the wattage does not increase the efficiency.

        Efficiency is a desirable objective in its own right; there is no need to involve a wattage limit.

        Something similar to fridge energy star ratings would seem to be a much better approach.

        Normal commercial competition will tend to make the more efficient products more successful. But, of course, you do have to have the data to make a judgement, which is what the legislators should concentrate on.

      • MikeP
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        well you appear to be in a minority on here – and JR usually attracts all sides of the political divide – in believing that this latest example of EU interference and others mentioned in the piece are a good use of their time and your tax. Most consumers who aren’t nannied from cradle to grave will work out for themselves how best to spend their money and get the best products for their needs, why has Dyson done so well do you think and they’re not affected by the regulation ?

  4. lifelogic
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Indeed nothing much to do but pointlessly interfere in people lives at our expense in pay pensions and inconvenience. Safety devices on cookers and boiler make them far less reliable, washing machines wash less well with less water, horrible dim mono chromatic lights countless other insanities.

    They could intervene a little on build in redundancy and shoddy goods built to last no time at all, software changes that render product worthless,but most of their interventions they do made are bonkers and counter productive. We are not short of water in the uk

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      Particularly products with rechargeable batteries that last one year but are sealed in so not worth changing or parts simple not available or absurdly prices so replacement is the only way you can go.

      new daft legislation frequently forces people or companies to discard perfectly good stuff.

      • Ted Monbiot
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        The reason for many products being sealed and so cannot be repaired by the public may be to boost recycling figures which are part of the EU’s WEEE regs.
        The EU has set targets for recycling by manufacturers under these complex regs so products which cannot be repaired are then sorted and seperated into the waste stream known as “waste electrical and electronic equipment”, taken to companies set up to deal with these products and get recycled (or repaired as we used to call it).
        Then the EU boasts how great they are by reducing the amount going to landfill and that they are meeting arbitrary figures for recycling.

        Fortunately the internet shows owners how to repair these things at home, despite the instructions stating the product is sealed and should be thrown away.
        I have just used this method to repair two items which just need a simple soldered wire and a new rechargeable battery.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

          They are sealed as there is no serviceable parts inside and when there is could make the product more expensive as repairs with labour costs are economically not viable.
          A printer I bought stopped working as it was only designed to print 8k pages. Reset by software from the internet and instructions on how to clean internal ink pads, by myself. Fifty quid repair to a fifty quid printer in a computer shop. Without this though the machine could fail and leak ink onto furniture and cause expensive damage with 8k pages about its useful life. So what do you want more expense and a longer life or a cheaper safer printer? Can’t be both.
          The cheapest printer in 1992 was £400 don’t forget and was mono.
          Absurd and pointless progress?

          • Ted Mombiot
            Posted August 24, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

            What nonsense Bazman
            “They are sealed as there is no serviceable parts inside”
            I had just given you two of many possible examples and a reason why manufacturers are doing this.
            The cost of throwing away a serviceable item and having to buy another new one compared to managing to repair an item said to be sealed and unrepairable is far less and better for the environment too.
            As you are generally anti capitalist and anti big business I would have expected you to be anti profiteering by deliberate built in obsolescence by manufacturers
            Are you just “anti” as a rule, whatever the facts are?

          • Bazman
            Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

            Labour costs are the main issue, at least here. Products need to be more like you say though. E waste is a massive problem for the world.

          • Ted Monbiot
            Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

            Not if you do it yourself !
            Which is what “they” are trying to stop you doing.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 25, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

          I can remember a central heating boiler clearly designed to fail when the back up rechargeable battery failed after say 2 years. This battery was fixed into the printed circuit board in such a way that you needed to buy a whole new expensive board rather than a £2 battery. Plus pay the corgi man twice to visit.

          These are the tricks they get up to with their booby trapped, designed to fail products.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 26, 2014 at 7:03 am | Permalink

            They want to sell boilers not parts. You are right on this one. Applies to many products, but you like cheap products don’t you?

          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 26, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

            It is not just the cheap products, manufacturers of expensive ones get up to these tricks too.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      You have had quality appliances pointed out to you before but still believe that a low cost washing machine with most of the cost being profit, warehouse/transport, warranty and tax can still have the same lifespan and performance of a reasonably priced machine. You want cheap and cheerful and this is what you have got. If you have a water meter less is better and I’m sure you agree water meters are ‘sensible’?
      Got to agree with the battery one though. Buy a product where the batteries can be easily replaced with common generic rechargeable ones such as AAA size.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 28, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        Where is your reply to this lifelogic? Oh you do not have one, but continue to believe. Cheap is the same as expensive. What does that tell us of your thinking? Idiotic deluded right wing nonsense with no factual basis.

    • David Price
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Why should the EU even be allowed to interfer with software functionality and lifespan, give them an inch and they will take a mile. The EU has no role in such matters.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 25, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

        Government could usefully intervene to stop companies rendering product redundant through software changes, making parts unavailable, longer warranties, making parts incompatible (printer cartridges for example with chips in them) and main other tricks they use to make you buy a replacement for no reason or make them fail or become unrepairable.

        The problem is, as you say, they do would probably not do it sensibly. Give then an inch and they would take a mile. Even such basic things as plastic loo seats, fridge compartment doors, washing machine catches can be so shoddy as to last no time at all.

        • David Price
          Posted August 25, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          But government has no business making the interventions you describe in a free-ish trade economy. If the cost of printer cartridges is such an issue then customers would go to a competitor. If it concerns you so much then learn to refill cartridges or use comparible cartridges instead of OEM. If you use ink jet printers so much then use a customer instalable bulk ink system and save even more.

          Government should not dictate what features I can and cannot include in my software or product unless it breaks the law.

          The only useful activity I can think of for government is to establish standard bases of comparison.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 28, 2014 at 8:56 am | Permalink

          How would all this absurd legislation and regulation be implemented, stopping the free market and causing no end of problems for manufactures pushing up prices etc etc… You can ad lb the rest in a deluded thick right wing rant. Maybe the EU could implement it?! Anything that effects you as usual.
          You would not pay the extra costs of this legislation and what about the costs of keeping all these spare parts and most would be thrown away as the product is replaced by newer better ones? Warhouse space delivery costs etc. Progress of products could be slowed down. There is however much that could be done if the manufactures where forced to do this and to reduce E waste. However we get back to your right wing nonsense of interfering with the market and how absurd this would be. This is how you want it and this is what you have got. Magical thinking and an owt for nowt scrounging right wing sense of entitlement and belief of the free market. Would you pay more at least in the short term. The answer is no.
          When you have a sensible reply get back to us.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 28, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

          All bought cheaply for you rented property and you know it. You will not spend a penny more than you have too. Do not tell us a cheap product is the same as a more expensive one. In most cases it is not. Its called economics.

  5. Bernard from Bucks
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure if I can blame the EU for this, but you can usually trace all food standards back to their interference. Regulations adding things, regulations banning or reducing things. Take salt for instance. By reducing salt in many products, whether or not it is a beneficial move, will usually result in people not only replacing the amount removed but more than likely – adding more.
    “Just leave us alone.”

    • Bazman
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      The populations taste change and this has been proved by the 1000′ s of tonnes less salt consumed by forcing food manufactures to use less. Personal choice being the only factor in a modern industrialised food chain is magical thinking.

  6. Sebastian Weetabix
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I cannot conceive of a more stupid measure than this restriction on motor size. The amount of energy required to lift particles of dust is governed by physics and does not change. A motor of smaller size will simply take longer to pick up all the dust and detritus and may indeed leave larger bits behind with consequences for asthmatics.

    I wonder at the thought processes behind this regulation, I really do. I suspect this is a consequence of being ruled by innumerate essay writing arts graduates with no more knowledge of the laws of physics than my cat.

  7. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    The vacuum cleaner regulation is the result of an industrial lobby to gain the advantage over competitors – that was shown on Dutch TV by interviewing these manufacturers.
    Maybe the EU should spend more time listening to ‘civil society’ (human rights activists etc.) than to ‘big business’ ?

    • stred
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Peter. Nail on head. The restrictions on design are all in order to sell more expensive new products and scapping old ones, which wear out quicker and cost more to service by main dealers. Even the water cisterns have been made non syphonic and, as in the US, massive amounts of metered water leaks down the drain.

      I see our local Greenleaf news celebrates the intallation of charging points for electric cars on motorway services. Never a mention that until we have 80% nuclear in the distant future, the amount of CO2 will be around the same. At least it might work in France and Sweden providing we can wait half an hour to top up. But lots of equipment and batteries to sell in E30k cars.

      And don’t forget the additional 5% Ethanol in petrol, which results in us having to buy 5% more fuel to drive the same distance.

      • cornishstu
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Man made CO2 is miniscule compared to what is produced on this planet by things beyond our control, I.E natural processes so is a non problem despite what the alarmist tell us. On the subject of petrol not only does ethanol reduce efficiency but the so do the cats fitted to modern cars by up to 10% , what we should be concentrating on is reducing the real pollutants mankind releases into the environment and the so called green revolution is producing plenty.

    • forthurst
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      “Maybe the EU should spend more time listening to ‘civil society’ (human rights activists etc.) than to ‘big business’ ?”

      Civil society is represented in Brussels by MEPs who are required to vote on legislation originated in the Commission or the Council of Ministers; they cannot originate legislation themselves and they are deliberately given insufficient time to understand legislation, even if they had the will or the intelligence, on which they are required to vote.

      Brussels is stuffed to the gunwhales with lobbying organisations whose role is to wine and dine Eurocrats in order to induce them to facilate through legislation their own corporations/pressure groups advantage against those of their competitors or at the expense of EU taxpayers or consumers.

      Of more concern than the EU inventing the EuroHoover, is HS2, SavethePlanet™ (Expensive, Unreliable and Useless) Energy Conversion Technology e.g. Windmills etc all of which has been foisted on us through the same mechanism.

      As a rabid supporter of the EU, Peter, I’m disappointed you have found cause to criticise this institution. P.S. How do you like the EU’s war in Ukraine? Have enough people been killed yet, do you think?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        @forthurst: Please read the meaning of civil society in say wikipedia to enlighten yourself.
        I’ve never heard of any “EU war” in Ukraine or anywhere else, but any person killed is one too many, you at least would agree to that I assume.

        • forthurst
          Posted August 25, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          Civil society elects parliamentary representatives to represent their views; otherwise what is the purpose of parliaments? Are we to be ruled by the battling of pressure groups for the ears of Eurocrats? What is the role of the EU Parliament? Civil society by your definition is a sociological concept that views ‘society’ as a collection of interest groups but without a common interest, all very Cultural Marxist; a nation cannot exist without a common interest, but then you do not believe in the nation state; I do, because it is a bulwark against criminal psychopaths like the Bolsheviks taking over large swathes of countries. The problem is not a failure of ‘Civil Society’, it is the essentially anti-democratic nature of the EU.

          If you imagine the EU had no involvement in engineering the present discord in Ukraine, you have either not been paying attention or you are wearing blinkers.

    • Kenneth
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Good point Peter. A feature of the eu is how it has favoured large businesses at the expense of small ones.

      In general more regulations are a good thing for big business as the regulations often re-enforce current practice of those bus businesses and stifle innovation.

      What’s more, the big businesses can administer these regulations (form filling etc) at a lower cost than small businesses. If a 5-person business had to spend 10 hours a week on regulatory paperwork this represents about 4% of their output which is a big chunk. However, the large business would fill in the same papers with relatively negligible resource being spent.

      This road of travel ultimately leads us to businesses that are too large to fail and eventually to a few very large Soviet style factories, protected by or owned by the ‘state’, making outdated products.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Indeed big businesses and the EU joining together to rip people off.

  8. agricola
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    The biggest retrograde step taken by the EU that has spread like a bacillus is the drive for renewable energy in the form of the windmill.

    It is much more expensive energy requiring a proliferation of windmills marching across our beautiful land and seascape. It does not work when the wind is too strong or none existent, adding to costs because there has to be more traditional back-up. It also kills a few birds. To anyone living near it’s noise is as penetrating as a disco beat.

    On the plus side, to land owners, it is a nice little earner and no doubt good for the manufacturers. But for users of electricity it just means higher bills.

    • Martyn G
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Not half! I see in today’s ST that we have paid out £11 million to just one wind farm to not produce electricity because it would otherwise overload the grid. And that 10 wind farms have been paid circa £3m each over the past 3 years for the same reason. Utter madness, though I suppose that as we close down more and more power stations wind farms may eventually become more useful – assuming of course that the wind is neither too strong or too weak for them to work efficiently!
      I often wonder at the PC approach to these things – vacuum cleaners are an easy if mistaken target – but what about banning floodlit football, rugby and tennis clubs who together each year consume heaven knows how many megawatts of electricity? Surely this should be of more immediate concern? Of course not, because it would result in outrage and unrest across the nation and a loss of votes on a big scale……

  9. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Dyson had to moan about it then inform us of his far more efficient smaller motors. Some bad plastics in those machines.

    I lost 3 Digital TVs (20 in) over 4 years with video display failures. Not repairable because tech diagrams not available and digital test equipment expensive, let alone spares…immediate bin to Africa? I could often repair analogues TVs/Radios quite easily.

    Digital TV transmitter power is high or low. High if BBC feeder licence funded. Mainly repeated junk that should ensure my 32 inch is hardly used. If there was a success here it is FreeSat.

    Digital Radios look like junk…retro boxes that are not. Never will buy one for house. In the car its quite good technically…programmes cr*p again, so use CD player mostly.

    If you design a small bore (4 inch) waste system for a certain water flow…why would you reduce that flow?

    George is 1200W and easily lifts a carpet. 1600W I would have thought is for industrial jobs?

    Modern technology. If you mean a PC then yes its good for typing stuff. I suspect most of Microsoft Office stuff is not used by most. In fact Office has got to the point were it is user unfriendly. Smart phones….displays are better except in daylight too often.

    Cars…I’ll stop moaning here…spendy stuff and the EU have not missed it.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      I still use a cheap 900-1100w Elecrolux Lite from 1997. Has strong suction, more than the modern ones it seems. So how is that?

      • David Price
        Posted August 25, 2014 at 5:33 am | Permalink

        Does yours have a HEPA filter etc – you need more power to suck the same through a filter. ALso the efficiency of a vaccum cleaner as a cleaner can be dependent on more than just how much it sucks, depending on the surface.

  10. drjohngalan
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I think the EU regulating that superior products must no longer be available will, in due course, play a part in their denouement.

    Light bulbs that you cannot see by, vacuum cleaners that do not suck – most people can work out that these yet more expensive “solutions” to human-caused global warming would have no effect even if CO2 were a problem. Their stupidity is not on a par with significant hikes in energy bills, which actually kill people (and transfer wealth from the poor to the rich), but they are so silly as to make the bureaucrats in Brussels look completely ridiculous. A light bulb that takes for ever to warm up is simply left on, whereas its predecessor would have been switched off when not needed. A vacuum cleaner that sucks half as well will take twice as long to do the cleaning. Net effect: no change in energy use, no change in CO2 emissions.

    The next renewable energy project should be to ensure that all EU offices are powered only by windmills and solar panels, and a regulation should be passed for it to be illegal for any EU office to be connected to the electricity grid (or to have fossil-fuelled generators). That might actually have a real effect.

  11. Ted Monbiot
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I believe the real reason for the imposition of this new law on vacuum cleaners by the EU is simply just because they can.
    They are flexing muscle and telling all member states “we are in charge” even down to small matters such as this.
    The message is “do as you are told”, and it comes across loud and clear.

    • David Price
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Nail on head. What is the point of being in a position of power/authority unless you exercise it. They get more points for the number of people impacted than the effectiveness of their action.

      Of course this applies equally to any level of bureaucratic mindset whether it is UN, EU, UK Gov or local council.

  12. Richard1
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Excellent points. There is usually a law of hidden consequences to regulation. In the case of this latest global warming inspired EU nonsense with vacuum cleaners it will as you say mean more use of electricity and more time (an economic cost) to do the same job. Has the EU considered the adverse public health consequences of dirtier carpets?

    Mind you don’t apply the expression ‘ hissy fit’ eg to a female Labour front bench MP
    I believe it could now be on the list of banned words and expressions.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Tell her that they should be at home pushing the Hoover about instead especially now its got easier.

      • Anonymous
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Bazman – Hoover is vacuum-ist language and unacceptable in this day and age.

        • Ted Monbiot
          Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

          I hope Bazman is not being overtly sexist, assuming only females use a vacuum cleaner.
          What with equality being at the heart of marxist/socialist beliefs brothers n sisters.

  13. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Many of us expect nothing useful from the EU and want no part of it. On the subject of the ban on high powered vacuum cleaners, I came across this revealing quote from ‘The European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom’:
    “The UK government also supported the rules- Member States could have blocked them had they wished.”
    There we have it – further proof that this government, led by your party with its europhile learder, is nothing more than an EU puppet government.
    “Just leave us alone” isn’t strong enough “we wan’t our country back”.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Sorry about the typo – I meant to write “want”.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for saving me the time and trouble of checking for myself whether the UK government had actually supported this EU measure, which is being highlighted and condemned by certain national newspapers that support the principal party in the UK coalition government. Usual hypocrisy all round, then.

  14. Bazman
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I write this with a broken down gas combi boiler and a metal bucket heating water on the stove, unlucky that its a bank holiday weekend, lucky its not winter! It’s the same problem every 12-18 months with a valve failing this time a leak makes it unusable. Am I cursing modern boilers? No. This one can be repaired fairly easily, but need repairing every year, still was the best option in 2002 and has provided good service and low bills for 12 years. Some of the latest and more expensive boilers come with 10 year parts and labour warranties the additional cost and efficiency of these boilers easily covering any wishful thinking of the boilers of 30 years ago an I will fit one of these in the next three years. The ten year warranty washing machine bought performs flawlessly and has for the last four years as It should for a thousand quid. The previous 300 quid one finished as grandfathers axe thanks to the poor design and the bleeding of an additional warranty. How do you want it on the forehead or in the forehead?
    Do you think cars would be at the same standard John if the manufactures had been left alone John? Never. The bulbs did get worse for a short time. The old ones are still available though at least for now. I have recently bought two Samsung LED bulbs for the hall and stairs. Same light output as a 100w using 10w, though light is a little thinner the lifespan is very long, how long remains to be seen. Would all the traditional light bulb fanatics still be using them when the light quality is better? Tell us why you will be and for what reason? Maybe you are supporters of the light bulb conspiracy and the Phoebus cartel of which there some truth in modern planned obsolescence bringing the affordable if poor 170 quid washing machine an very high cheap modern quality cars. Model T anyone?

    • Martyn G
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      I agree – quality costs. Just over 20 years ago we had a new kitchen – all new surfaces etc with German manufactured high-end (expensive, very!) dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer installed.
      The tumble drier suffered a terminal failure at year 18 and was replaced with another of the original manufacture. Everything else (and I hope not to regret saying this!) works without complaint. Quality costs, always.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        !8 years for a tumble dryer? Fly by nights!

  15. Martin
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I’m glad that somebody has put a stop to over powered vacuum cleaners.

    My humble 1250W vacuum cleaner could lift a piece of carpet if not laid properly never mind the dust.

    Why on Earth do folk need more than 1600Watts of power for an electric motor to turn a fan? That is more power than a small electric fire!

    Perhaps you could ask the EU or somebody to pass a law to stop making things that fall to bits after a couple of years? Kettles are a pet hate of mine these days. A decent kettle (nothing fancy)used to last 10 years. Two years seems to be the typical lifespan now.

    • Big John
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      > Why on Earth do folk need more than 1600Watts of power for an electric motor to turn a fan?

      Suction is not the only requirement.
      Powerful brushes make a huge difference to how well a vacuum cleaner cleans, and powerful brushes do require the extra power (it’s basic physics!).

      Vacuum cleaners run for a few minutes each week. The amount of energy saved in the transient use of the appliance will be miniscule in the scheme of things.

      I can see a black market developing for more powerful vaccum cleaners, bought from outside of the eco fascist EU.

      • forthurst
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

        “Vacuum cleaners run for a few minutes each week. The amount of energy saved in the transient use of the appliance will be miniscule in the scheme of things.”

        However according to the preamble of Regulation 2013/665, “The energy used by vacuum cleaners accounts for a significant part of total energy demand in the Union. The scope for reducing the energy consumption of vacuum cleaners is substantial.”

        How to reconcile? Perhaps, the obsessive hoovering of German hausfraus is to blame for this further contraint on our liberty?

    • David Price
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      But you can chose not to buy the 1600W product based on your needs and understanding. Why should the rest of us suffer from a restriction that doesn’t affect you and pay to molly coddle and protect others who are too lazy to think things through from the folly of buying machines that suck too much?

  16. acorn
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The Dutch lobbied to try and scupper Dyson cyclone technology (and its patents). Cyclone separators need fast spinning air to work, which needs motor power.

    (anti company joke left out ed)

    The fastest way to break up the EU is for it to ban all cars with more than four cylinder engines.

    • Mark Thackray
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      The Eu would not do that as it would effect the main EU economies of Germany and France, most of the laws are written to favor them two nations.

  17. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I must agree the most frustrating thing is trying to read under the light of an energy saving light bulb.As our eyes suffer from declining accuracy and age related problems we need more light , not less.

    At present I am looking for a new vacuum cleaner and thought a more expensive brand : a tall slim , powerful one may be the answer. I have spent ,many years on hands and knees cleaning carpets when suction has not been powerful enough to take up my then more youthful mane. Today, it hurts to go down on bended knee. The older bones need a bit of love and support; for goodness sake all these years of sport and keeping fit have taken their toll .

    Thank goodness I still have my Alba digital radio and my Denon receiver, for if those old faithful’s let me down I would need to buy new with endless amounts of instructions in every language known to mankind before getting to the inadequate English ones.

    I went to a well known electrical store to collect my new computer which has broken for the 5th time in 7 months. It was not a cheap and nasty one. Whilst in the store I looked at different TV’s with windows 8 incorporated, but was advised strongly by the sales person not to buy one as they frequently breakdown.

    Breakdowns, logistics,unnecessary toing and froing all increase energy costs, but it is doublethink . It pays to keeping inadequately powerful , tackily made systems on the go. It pays to have lots of tatty looking cheap clothes which will be thrown away to add to landfill.It pays to use driers and washing machines instead of fresh air and hand wash. It is the sheer hypocrisy of all this which gets to me , but alas it pays to be a hypocrite.

  18. William Long
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    And no doubt ours will as usual be the only Government that fails to find a way round such stupid legislation!

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      They actually supported it!!
      ‘The European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom’:
      “The UK government also supported the rules- Member States could have blocked them had they wished.”

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 26, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Typical of Cameron, we are governed by complete and utter idiots, who think the EU should control even our dust collection methods. Major’s subsidiarity lie in practice.

  19. Bob
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The Tories took us into the EEC and have happily signed away our sovereignty ever since.

    They would have taken us into the Euro if it hadn’t been for George Soros and Black Wednesday.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Correct and yet we are now expected to believe that they are the only ones capable and willing to get us out of this anti-democratic foreign organisation! They may have the capability but anyone who thinks they have the willingness is deluding themselves.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink


      Although, to be fair, Major would not have joined the euro “willy-nilly”, as a Tory MP wrote in the Daily Mirror in July 1996:


      “John Major has deliberately kept his options open. There is no commitment by the government to join it willy-nilly.”

  20. oldtimer
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Savvy big businesses, which know how to work the EU system, will lobby for self serving changes. It has happened in the pharmaceutical and other industries too. The objective is to kill off or reduce competition. If what you say is true about it being an attempt to restrict competition from outside the EU, then it will not be effective for very long. No doubt there is someone, somewhere (probably in China) building a new cleaner to the new spec as I write this.

    The other source of unnecessary regulations are the single issue pressure groups, often acting with with the encouragement of the EU Commission itself. Indeed some of these groups are effectively financially dependent on the Commission for their very survival. Millions of euros have been dispensed to such groups by the Commission to encourage them to lobby for changes the Commisssion itself wants. These is then paraded as the demands of public opinion which must be respected. In reality, like the business lobbies, they only represent the views of minority interests.

    These interests exercise a wholly disproportionate and often malign sway over the directives and regulations that now complicate and disfigure our lives. The same influences can be observed in the UK Parliament, most notably in the drafting and passing of what became the Climate Change Act.

    Of course modern social media adds huge leverage to their activities as, no doubt, Mr Redwood will confirm. Which among has never been invited to send some predrafted email of complaint with supposed remedy to our MP?

  21. English Pensioner
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Regulations are made because that is what the big EU industrial organisations want. The want to put the small business or cheap product out of business.
    I went to buy weedkiller to treat my drive; the one that I’ve always used has been banned by the EU on safety grounds and the main alternative costs about five times the price and is made by a well known German chemical company. As for being safer, you only have to read the instructions with all the safety precautions to realise that this is far from true; one didn’t have to take any of them with the now banned product.
    There was also a recent report that German car manufacturers are pressing for it to be mandatory for all cars to be serviced by the manufacturer’s accredited agent “in view of the complexity of modern vehicles”, yet another move to kill off the small business.
    If the EU would put their mind to pressing for products to last longer, it would be a worthwhile exercise and save energy. Why should something like an electric kettle in domestic use only survive about 18 months before going wrong and not capable of being repaired? They used to go on almost for ever with one fitting a new element occasionally, now they fail, usually due to a bit of broken plastic. But then the big companies wouldn’t like that, they need to keep selling new ones to boost their profits.

    • alan jutson,
      Posted August 25, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink


      Ah yes, plastic fittings/parts.

      Their use would not be so bad if they were designed properly so that they would actually last, rather than work for what is often a limited time before they break/fail.

      In many cases failure is simply poor engineering or design.

      No substitute for properly engineered products in the correct material, but they cost more.

  22. ian wragg
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Tell us John, What has your government done to prevent these and other stupid regulations being passed. It was B liar who banned the humble light bulb. ( I have enough to last my life span). Do you know by 2017 the max will be 900w for vacuum cleaners.
    Our latest gripe is with all this low temperature technology for washing machines. We are having to replace door seals as a slime builds up due to it not being hot enough to kill spores.
    The EU is a corpse and the rest of the world carries on ignoring their stupidity. Do you really think the rest of the world will follow suit.
    Only about 38 weeks to the GE so we can give Millipede a chance to continue the nonsense. You really do not deserve to be in power John.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      What will you do with all these bulbs when they have been made obsolete by technological progress? keep using them in some sort of weird protest? E bay them? To who?! I still have a 1999 20w florescent from Tesco the first widely avalible and viable ones. Might be an antique one day! Probably not.

      • English Pensioner
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        Simple. Florescent lights of any type give my wife a migraine if she is exposed to them for too long. A trip to the supermarket gives her problems if she takes to long. LED lights are good as spotlights, but they don’t provide satisfactory general room lighting. Our local Sainsbury’s is being re-fitted with LED lighting, my wife will no doubt be able to see if they affect her like the previous florescents. Meanwhile we use incandescent lamps lamps at home.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Is it really “progress” to replace existing popular products with inferior ones just because “they” say they are more environmentally efficient?
        Who is in charge? Them or us?
        You seem to be someone who does not like being told what to do, yet on certain matters like this one, you come over all compliant.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 25, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

          They have not been replaced yet and who can ignore savings in electricity of up to 90%? You choose the bulb for the application. A 500w halogen for example when working in the loft. I have used some very good battery powered LED’s for the same.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 27, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

            Indeed as you say Baz, “you choose” and that is how it should be.
            If you prefer a low energy bulb or an LED or a halogen or even an old fashioned filament bulb then “you choose”.
            You do not need laws forbidding you from making this simple choice.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 27, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

            Would this apply to cars with less safety features or lower impact safety standards as for the ‘safer driver’ on a budget. Or more polluting cars?

      • ian wragg
        Posted August 25, 2014 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        My house is filled with traditional incandescent lamps and I find it very calming. My Mother in Law has energy saving lamps and is continually complaining she can’t see the pieces of the jigsaw.
        She cannot change as when she was rewired the fittings were different.

    • Mark Thackray
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Answer buy a life times supply of vacuum cleaners.
      Tungsten carbide bulbs give a better light but they are more expensive in resources and energy. The push to florescent lights was good and bad but it has brought in LED lamps which will eclipse all florescent lamp production in the next 5 years. They still need some development in light diffraction and the intensity can give strong shadowing.

  23. John E
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Some of the over fifties complaining here about light bulbs may need to get their eyes checked by an optician. I did and my cataract operation is due in three weeks.

    Yes, it’s being done privately. It would be well into next year on the NHS due to the waiting lists, so best get checked out sooner rather than later.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Maybe. It’s certainly true that in March 2007 the Independent reported on a 53 year old woman saying that the low energy bulbs were not good enough:


      “Europe sees the light over energy-saving bulbs”

      “However the German Chancellor may have undermined her cause by admitting that the low-energy bulbs have sometimes left her Berlin flat in a state of gloom. Ms Merkel said they are “not quite bright enough so sometimes when I’m looking for something that’s dropped on the carpet I have a bit of a problem.””

      But that didn’t stop her pressing for an EU ban on incandescent bulbs.

      This is the kind of utter stupidity that we have to suffer these days thanks to the rotten EU system of government; of course there will always be apologists for the EU ready to defend its many stupidities, but they remain stupidities.

    • English Pensioner
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      My cataract operation (on the NHS) removed the yellowing natural lenses. The energy saving lights, whether florescent or LED now look very harsh.

  24. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Technology is usually complexity/cost and the subject of reliability.

    For domestic use no manufacturer is too interested in reliability. 2 yrs guarantee and who cares. Perhaps the EU might force 5 yr guarantees or do I bump into VI’s somewhere around 2 years? There is a cost and technology has reduced it in the case of PCs, well they have been at it for over 20 yrs including the accidental(?) low production of memory chips (SIMMs) some years ago. Sorry, we had a factory/storage fire in Taiwan…sorry!

    To glibly state that technology is going to solve future energy generation is nonsense. Thats where big power stations get mixed up with Windmills, Windows 7 or Android – Java and the old TVs/washing machine controllers…well, I never.

    LED lamps from China seem to be very expensive for something domestic and that is not easily dimmable – purchase new dimmer type of course to dim light by 10% max. No worry, they’ll auto dim as the LEDs fail. These are diodes arranged in series and parallel strings (arrays) with a driver chip reducing 240v AC to whatever DC voltage is necessary to drive such an array. And the reliability analysis is where? Oh..its OK its got a CE mark on it.

    Its DC thats used in technology (electronics), so should we not get some VI’s to change all the grid power lines to the earlier DC transmission? Lobbying…anybody up for it. No..just get the DC from your solar panels and convert it to AC at your house, ship it onto the grid. Then for all your/neighbour electronic life style support units convert back down to DC. Technology!

    • John E
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      To transmit power efficiently requires high voltages as the losses are a function of the current. To increase the power transmitted by the conductor the voltage is stepped up, not the current. AC power transmission won out over DC because it was more easily (cheaply) stepped down to the voltages taken by the end users.

      I have fitted one of the domestic energy monitors, and although I have more than my fair share of gadgets, the power used in the house is predominantly taken by the electric oven, the refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher – the old fashioned stuff. Charging the iPad barely shows up on the monitor, and nor does the entertainment kit left in standby that we get nagged about.

      Now if we all start running electric cars and charging them at home things will get interesting because the grid was certainly never designed for that scenario.

    • Mark Thackray
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      The reason we do not have DC power transmission is voltage drop. DC is great when you don’t have to transmit it over long distances, AC is much more efficient. If you want local DC current it can be converted with some hardware cost, or each house could have its own power generation.
      I repaired an industrial vacuum the other day the brush motor was 0.55kW DC a strong permanent magnet DC motor with the AC power fed through a bridge rectifier (cost £2.51). Made in the UK or German the motor would be £1000 (it was Chinese) its efficiency is about 98% a single phase AC motor would have an efficiency of 65 to 70% and would be twice the size. Industry must be the moving factor not government but sometimes government needs to put a guiding hand on to push things in the right direction. Many times governments get it wrong.

  25. Mark B
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    If you are a Carpenter, every solution to a problem can be resolved with the use of a hammer, and a nail.

    The EU is, what it is ! And that is, our Primary Legislator and Government.

    In between all this out pouring of bile for all things EU, we seem to have missed something. That a foreign agency / government (EU) can, if it so chooses, impose its will upon us via regulation, over an above the heads of Parliament, and there is nothing either they, or we, can do about.

    Which begs the question. What is it, that you are prepared to do to change this ?

  26. The PrangWizard
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I saw the news item, and immediately thought what you express in your second paragraph. I imagine the ‘greens’ in your government love this though, it’s just the kind of attack on individuals they revel in; that is an attack on the evil ‘consumerist’. It’s all to do with the ‘sustainability’ Agenda’.

    With their encouragement we are on the slow road to a Cuban style economy where people, unable to buy things they want and which work properly, and business under threat if they import, will be obliged to hang on to things they have and repair them for as long as they can. I bought a large stock of light bulbs some time ago and I still have a lot left, I’m sure there are millions in cupboards and sheds all around England. I do have a 2000watt vacuum cleaner, and I will keep that going as long as is humanly possible. Weed killers seem to have a more dilute ingredient, and the white satin paint I am using at present on my woodwork doesn’t seem to give the depth of coverage I remember from last time. In both these latter cases of course I use more to get the results I want. Controls have gone beyond the issue of ‘safety’, and we know that many of those have to be questioned.

    It won’t be long before the only free market will be the ‘black market’ and I for one will be happy to buy from it. Will the authoritarians ban the repair of 2000watt vacuum cleaners and restrict the manufacture and import of any particular spare parts? It would be logical.

    Who can claim with all the other restrictions we have to endure that we live in the type of free society we have had in the past? But, what to do, there seems nothing can be done other than refuse to co-operate.

  27. Dennis
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    No one has mentioned that all these regulations caused by trying to control energy use, pollution etc. is due to world overpopulation. A total of a billion or so would obviate any need for chemical farming, parking meters, housing problems, rubbish accumulation, water shortages, windfarms, extra runways etc., etc., etc.

    Don’t with sneers first ask how I am to reduce population -all agree first that this is a solution and then start to think of user friendly ways to accomplish this, over a a very lengthy time of course. In the meantime there will be a need to deal with overpopulation problems.

    • oldtimer
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      Compulsory euthanasia for everyone over a certain age would achieve your aim. We are not quite there yet, but on our way as the Liverpool Pathway and DNR symbols on your hospital notes testify. Of course there will be the added bonus of saving all those old age pension payments and hospital costs of the bed blockers, and not forgetting the accelerated payment of IHT that is likely to follow. The Chancellor will be pleased.

      In fact, although world population will rise it is clear from reducing birthrates in growing economies that world population will top out and then decline in future decades. It is entirely feasible for the world to feed itself through reducing waste, improving agricultural productivity (a notable success story) and without the need to resort to insects and maggots as the BBC seems to think.

  28. Anonymous
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I am neither a privateer nor a public sector stalwart. Both have their pros and cons when it comes to best practice and innovation.

    Publicly owned UK organisations led the way in the development of armaments and aeronautics – if combat technology isn’t the cutting edge then what is ? These organisations were stocked with brains provided by state run schools and colleges.

    Privatisations have often been disasterous for Britain. Do we think that privatisation would produce better sailors, soldiers or airmen ? The last time I looked the elite SAS was still in the public sector.

    The problem comes when we cede so much to appease our new foreign rulers. The poisonous-to-dispose ‘enegergy saving’ lightbulbs – the useless windfarms. The harmful recycling laws which have brought us more fly-tipping and the burning of garden waste, noxious builder’s waste (try getting the authorities to act !) meaning that, for much of the summer, we have had to have our windows closed.

    It is not a matter of the problem being when politicians get involved so much as when the WRONG politicians get involved.

    Low powered vacuum cleaners won’t save a thing but will annoy a lot of people. The more people the better.

  29. Bazman
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Again buying cheap and then blaming the manufacture for you being a cheapskate. My computer was built by a local shop using high quality components. Cheap LED are quite nasty its true. Why did you buy them?
    You are right that the step down in LED’s from mains to low power is a problem and maybe another system for lighting is the answer in the future.
    While we are at it we could get rid of the nation grid and get some real competition going different voltages, AC or DC. Small companies selling to individual homes at low prices providing proper service and electrical goods to run on these systems. Mobile generators touring and undercutting the big power stations and covering power outages. The green suppliers will then have to become competitive or maybe just supply rich guilty people. Gyms selling surplus power generated by their clients and so on.
    It’s a marvellous idea and should be investigated further you are right.

    • alan jutson,
      Posted August 25, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink


      You could be onto something here, Gyms selling energy.

      Instead of using electrical power to control a persons running speed, we could have treadmill type generators, where the runner powers the machine and creates energy.

      Indeed we could all have one at home, thus keep fit, generate power, and save money at the same time.

      Why pay for gym membership when you could reduce your electrical bills.

      How long before someone markets this idea with a home generator.

      Guarantee it will be manufactured in China.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        See how long you can keep up 300 watts of energy on an exercise bike! A 100 watts is easy if you are reasonably fit. You would be singing the praises of low energy bulbs if this is how your lighting was powered.

  30. Kenneth
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    There is a common pattern amongst those – generally on the left – who use power, usually achieved undemocratically, in an attempt to change the natural order of things.

    Whether it is ‘greens’ attempting to defy nature, socialists and communists (e.g. the eu) attempting to rig markets or governments attempting to impose their will on other cultures, the pattern is always the same:

    Failure (also known as ‘unintended consequences’)
    More intervention
    More failure

    • Bazman
      Posted August 25, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Would that include privatisation.

  31. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    A better proposal would have ensured that cleaners met a certain efficiency standard in terms of suction power per kw of motor power and left it at that . That would overcome the objection of lower power cleaners needing to be used for longer to some extent.
    But really it is none of the Eu’s business what power output the motor in my vacuum is.

    I would be in agreement with limits on the noise output of modern cleaners. Some are very loud indeed and aside from the noise nuisance, anything over 85dB has the potential to damage hearing.

  32. forthurst
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Terrestrial broadcasting has inherent line-of-sight problems not necessarily associated with the inverse square law, a problem that does nor affect satellite in the same way. The evolution from 4*3 to 16*9 HD has been unnecessarily expensive and disruptive for consumers and has indicated an inability to plan properly which bedevils the political process, generally.

    The Hannigton Transmitter might be the one used by JR in his constituency:


    Whereas, the political process may legitimately associate itself with product safety, not surely with product design and testing which is the role of consumer organisations?

    Anyone wanting to avoid the scope of Regulation 665/2013 might consider a “wet, wet and dry, battery operated, robot, industrial…” hoover.

    Anyone interested in the fine detail or just a good laugh (having previously put down their cup of coffee) should examine Annex VI:


  33. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    “Just leave us alone.” That applies to many other things.

    The greatest lines that Bob Dylan wrote were:
    “Don’t follow leaders
    Watch your parking meters.”

  34. BobE
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Its beginning to go the EUSSR route. The peoples tractor, the peoples vacuum. All designed by expensive consultants who are motivated by more contracts. If you love Britain vote to get out of the eu.

  35. ian
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Never mind about EU laws what about the robots and bots coming in capable of doing away with 50% of the work force which your government rely on for tax”s.Companies do not pay tax on robots or bots are you working on a new tax system . The government busy handing out lots of passports to migrants how are you going to employ all these people in a robot world with employment tax going down and service being cut. Do you think.

  36. Gary C
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Just another example of stupidity from the EU. Obviously they are not bright enough to understand why many in the UK wish to leave their parasitic club the sooner we get a vote the better.

  37. ian
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Government can not look after you has to call in the FBI to look after boarders and security. They should just shut down parliament you do better on your own.

  38. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    If something like this had cropped up fifty years ago then there would have been an argument and the minister responsible for the proposal would have been forced to defend it, and if he didn’t back down then for some people it would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and they would change their voting intentions.

    Now we have national newspapers which support the Tory party highlighting this and condemning the EU, when it seems that in fact the UK government supported this proposal; which presumably is now a fait accompli, enshrined in EU law, and therefore there is little point to any further debate on the matter.

    This is the rotten, anti-democratic, system of government which the Tory party under Heath deliberately imposed on this country, and which the other main parties fully support.

  39. Big John
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    > Might it not need more passes of the carpet to get them clean?
    > This could use more energy than having a more powerful machine in the first place.


    So as well as wasting more time cleaning, it will also reduce the life of the vacuum cleaner, requiring more frequent replacement, for the same amount of cleaning.

    Can we just get rid of these eco lunatics, they have no understand of engineering and physics.

  40. ian
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    John, government in last stages of perpetration of new laws for riots and revolution. There is no need for this the parliament should stand down.

  41. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I have found the specific EU regulation and would be interested to learn what communication was made to Members of Parliament, if this was brought to your attention and if you had any say at all in its acceptance by our government bearing in mind it was agreed in July 2013:

    COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 666/2013 of 8 July 2013
    implementing Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to ecodesign requirements for vacuum cleaners
    Article 5

    Entry into force
    This Regulation shall enter into force on the twentieth day
    following that of its publication in the
    Official Journal of the
    European Union

    This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.
    Done at Brussels, 8 July 2013.
    For the Commission
    The President
    José Manuel BARROSO

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 24, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Are we to assume, by your lack of repsonse, that MPs were complicit in agreeing to this?

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted August 25, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

        I’ll take that as a ‘yes’!

        Reply Not so

  42. ian
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Keynesian government crackpots, wasteful spending is better then nothing. Will bankers supply english indigenous middle class with free coffins and burial plots

    • petermartin2001
      Posted August 25, 2014 at 6:13 am | Permalink


      At least in the UK, all coffins and burial plots have to be purchased with money which we have only because it was spent into the economy by government!
      That’s capitalism for you!

  43. petermartin2001
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    The wattage of vaccum cleaners issue reminds me of those discussions we had about pounds and ounces and what can and can’t be called a sausage. It’s annoying but hardly any more than that.

    We should be asking “why does the EU like new economic policies to perform worse than older ones?”

    Furthermore we need to ask why the highly educated technocrats who run the EU are incapable of recognising that if something isn’t working then it’s time to try something different?

    • David Price
      Posted August 25, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      I have no interest in helping the EU improve how it governs me, I simply don’t want to to be governed by it.

  44. Trimperley
    Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    This year I needed to replace my old petrol Flymo which was beyond repair. I use the Flymo for cutting the grass on a steep bank. The old Flymo had a two stroke petrol engine and could be used at any angle, it lasted over 30 years. The EU have banned two stroke engines. The new Flymo has a four stroke engine and can only be used on banks with less than a 45 degree gradient. It must be moved from side to side to make sure the oil circulates, I was told not to pull it up and down the bank or the engine might seize up. The reason for the ban is nonsense but the effect is becoming more than an irritant to people’s lives.

  45. bigneil
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Nothing to do with vacuum power. If the wattage is reduced, suction goes down, longer to clean – so – the rich then have to employ more third world cleaners – thereby generating an increased demand/reason to import even more people

  46. Alexis
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    So now we have:

    – light bulbs that don’t light, and are a health and waste hazard
    – boilers that don’t heat, and waste gallons of water
    – hoovers that don’t clean
    – and manufacturers who can’t manufacture what consumers want.

    Every little thing this abysmal organisation does, is designed to make life harder, more stressful, more expensive. To pay for it, new ways to grasp money through taxation are invented. Quality of life falls, and falls, and falls: but the cost rises, and rises.

    And still people out there smile and grin and say how wonderful the organisation is: or how scared they are at the prospect of leaving, or wonder how we’ll ‘manage’ if we leave.

    Our legislators seem to sleepwalk through it. Unless prodded perhaps, when doubtless they lurch awake with

    ‘Oh! Ah, er three million jobs depend on it…….um, oh, good for jobs, good for Britain…..influence……snore….zzzzz’

  47. Bazman
    Posted August 25, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    To sum up this whole post. If you are skint and need maximum credit from your electricity card to light up your house and provide for your children then take the EU way of trying to increase efficiency of appliances and light bulbs. Or if like me you hate increasing utility companies owned by foreign countries and investors ripping off the population and sending their profits to offshore tax havens then take the EU way of forcing companies to increase the efficiency of their appliances, like banking their savings will never be passed onto you. The same which can be seen as additional beer tokens on a yearly basis. If you idiots like paying more for the same, then good luck. It’s called progress…and if you are old should know this.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 27, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Sadly the progress I observe is that as we use less they charge more.

  48. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted August 27, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    There is some sense in having European wide legislation on certain goods. For example I can remember when pollution from motor vehicles in the early 1990’s was very much worse than it is today when more vehicles are on the road . Euro 1 – 6 emission legislation have been succesful in reducing pollution.
    If vacuum cleaner manufacturers find it attractive in terms of cost and marketing to fit larger motors than to re-design there machines to be more efficient some legislation will be helpful. Even if we don’t believe in man made global warming, which i do not, we do need to use energy more efficiently.
    Just as the latest 1.5 Litre formula one car can match the performance of last seasons 3.0 litre , a humble vacuum cleaner can be made to be more efficient and use a smaller motor (within the envelope of physical and manufacturing possibilities!).

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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