Friday, March 31, 2006

Protestors pipe up and take lead in organ debate

The story that is gripping the UK: Lead Pipe Organs. A new EU directive has led the Department for Trade and Industry to announce that Lead Pipe Organs can have only 0.1 per cent of its weight in lead, prompting the Ilford Recorder to LEAD with "Ban church organs? EU must be joking."
My source, the Bishop of Brustwerk, pointed me in the direction of three parliamentary questions. A shivering Bishop of Brustwerk informed me that his father taught him to play with his organ at an early age and often watched him play even today.
Displaying that they are now indeed in touch with the kidz, Tory MP Tony Baldry had a cunning plan, asking:

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many organpipes have been disposed of on landfill sites since 2002.

Mr. Bradshaw: No data are available on the information requested. However, I would expect recyclable organ pipes would be sent to scrap metal facilities rather than to landfill.

Not deterred by this, Liberal Democrat Shadow Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Dr Steve Webb asked:

Steve Webb: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners how many pipe organs there are in the Church of England.

Sir Stuart Bell: The Church of England does not hold figures centrally for pipe organs in its cathedrals and churches. However, there are some 28,000 pipe organs registered in the UK (National Pipe Organ Register).

Well that's cleared that one up then. However, things got a bit tastier when the Labour and Co-op Member for Stroud, David Drew asked:

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to ensure that on (a) the restriction of hazardous substances (2002 95/EC) and (b) waste electrical and electronic equipment (2002 96/EC) prohibiting the use of lead in component manufacture do not adversely affect the organ building and repair industry.

Malcolm Wicks: The Department of Trade and Industry continues to work closely with the European Commission, other member states and industry on the RoHS and WEEE directives. The repair and refurbishment of existing pipe organs (both now and in the future) will not be affected; neither will pipe organs that are not reliant on electricity to function. A total exemption for the manufacture of new pipe organs from the substances restrictions of the RoHS directive would require a formal application by the industry to the European Commission (under article 5.1b). The Department has offered to work with the industry to help them develop such a case.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment on pipe organ (a) building and (b) maintenance; and if he will make a statement.
Malcolm Wicks: There is no impact on pipe organ building or maintenance arsing from the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive.

Look closer to Malcolm Wicks' answer...he skillfully answers David Drew's but is comprenhensively stumped by wily David Chaytor answering that "There is no impact on pipe organ building or maintenance arsing..."
MAINTENANCE ARSING? Now that is a debate we could all enjoy.

Hopefully, these proposals will only apply to newly built organs. Otherwise a bit of drum 'n' bass might address dwindling congregations.

* photo courtesy of the Ilford Recorder

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