Milestone moment as bill for regulation of electrical industry is laid before Scottish Parliament

Jamie Halcro Johnston

SELECT has hailed a ‘major step forward’ in its fight for regulation of the electrical industry after a bill was laid before the Scottish Parliament which could lead to protection of title becoming a reality.

The trade association welcomed the Members’ Bill lodged by Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston. If passed, it could enshrine in law the professional status of electricians, making it a statutory offence for someone to call themselves an electrician when they have no, or inadequate, qualifications.

Alan Wilson, MD of SELECT, said, “This has been a long journey which is not yet complete, but this is an extremely important step on the road towards protection of title. The bill will be scrutinised by legislators and other experts but, given the outstanding levels of cross-party and cross-discipline support that the campaign has already achieved, it is to be hoped that the logic of our argument will be accepted.”

The Members’ Bill will now go to a committee stage for examination then, if it proceeds, to two further amendment stages. If passed, it will be sent for Royal Assent, where it will be turned into a binding Act of the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Wilson added, “More than 100 professions, including gas engineers, are protected in law – but not electricians, who carry out extremely complex work which is vital to the smooth running of our society. It is an anomaly which is ripe for rectification.”

Mr Halcro Johnston, who is MSP for the Highlands and Islands, added, “Electrical safety is vitally important. Every year, there are incidents of shocks and fires caused by electrical malfunctions. It is important that people carrying out electrical work are qualified and able to do so.”

The bill follows cross-party backing for regulation, with a host of MPs, MSPs, industry and individual electricians signing SELECT’s Wall of Support. The latest signatory was former Scottish Government minister Fergus Ewing, who added his name beside SNP MP Owen Thompson.

The campaign has been spearheaded in partnership with the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB), Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust and Unite the Union.

Fiona Harper, the secretary of the SJIB, commented, “There has been widespread and supportive backing from all across the construction industry and the wider public for SELECT’s stated position that regulation of electricians is an issue of public safety and it’s clear that the profession should be protected by the full weight of the law.”