Chair, hon members, Legal Metrology casts into law measures that guarantee that instruments using current norms accurately measure what needs to be measured, such as a car's speed, the pressure of our blood, our blood alcohol content, units of electricity, litres of petrol, weights of trucks at weighbridges, the directions of a compass and the rhythmic intervals of music.
We take it for granted that the things that measure what needs to be measured are accurate, and it is accurately done, but in order to add certainty to certainty we have the Legal Metrology Bill before us. Having such a system is vital in building trust in the use of expert knowledge in the service of better lives for all.
The purpose of the Bill, as you have learnt, is to promote fair trade by providing market inspectors for a capacity check that, when we buy goods sold by weight, for example, the scales measure the displayed mass of what is inside the bottles, and to better protect public health and safety by regulating the way in which measuring instruments are used, stored, serviced, repaired and handled.
For example, it is critical that blood pressure monitors in hospitals and clinics read accurately, and when, it comes to combating drunk driving, that the alcohol analysis machines are incontrovertibly precise and stand up to the most rigorous scrutiny in a court of law.
Finally, the Bill empowers the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications to administer and to enforce all legal metrology regulations in our country. The ability of the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications to do so requires staff capacity to reach into the clinics in the remotest parts of our country to ensure that medical devices work properly. However, we are not convinced that the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications has enough budget to do so.
Chair, this Bill is uncontroversial and we in the committee have jointly solved all of its problems of substance, which were, firstly, that, the Bill as tabled provided that market surveillance inspectors, and verification and repair officers, all had to be employees of the NRCS. As we know, we have a thriving private industry in instrument repair and verification. The Department of Trade and Industry was very happy to change this. Now the Bill says that only market surveillance inspectors need to be state employees. As long as their qualifications are certified by the NRCS, the other related technical professionals may be drawn from the private sector.
Secondly, the DA is viscerally opposed to the making of laws by regulation and is opposed to giving any Minister discretionary powers, especially this Minister who, in his admirable devotion to hard work, is also overzealous in his unbridled enthusiasm to regulate everything that moves. However, in the area of legal metrology the regulation of measuring instruments must comply with the SA National Standards, as determined by the SA Bureau of Standards, the international standards for conformity assessment and calibration of legal metrology instruments, and the Convention on the International Organisation of Legal Metrology. As these standards and conventions are themselves constantly changing as technology and metrological science advance, there is a need, indeed, to allow the Minister to issue regulations. We have no problems with that at all.
It is one thing, hon members, to ensure instrumentation quality. It is quite another thing for human beings to use these instruments properly. The use of instruments, especially in the health sphere, more often than not requires sophisticated training. Also, the Minister of Health must assure us that he is satisfied with the quality of professional and paraprofessional training. The Ministers of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and those responsible for safety and security must assure us that traffic officers and the police know how to use breathalysers properly.
Chair, the Bill is uncontroversial in that it provides for fairer trade and will better protect consumers from unscrupulous traders and substandard service, some of which is a matter of life and death.
I must finally bring to the attention of Minister Davies the problems that the Western Cape roads executive have had with type approval for breathalysers, as they have had with conformity and type approval with truck weighbridges. The Minister would do very well to engage with provinces on this particular subject.
The DA supports the Legal Metrology Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]