Unsafe Products

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 2:22 pm on 12th July 1995.

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Photo of John McAllion John McAllion , Dundee East 2:22 pm, 12th July 1995

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what further representations he has had from the organisations representing consumers about improving recall procedures for unsafe products. [32115]

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans , Brecon and Radnor

I have received no recent representations on this matter, but the Government have in place powers which allow enforcement authorities to remove unsafe consumer products from the market. Those powers are complemented by powers to require public warning notices if necessary.

Obligations to comply with consumer safety legislation, as well as the adverse impact of product liability claims, also provide business with clear incentives to act quickly when issues of safety may arise, including undertaking recalls when appropriate.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion , Dundee East

Is the Minister aware that as many as 3,700 Citroen ZXs are being driven with potentially lethal footbrakes due to a manufacturing fault? Will he speak to Vauxhall about the 330,000 cars on the road with wrongly fitted airbag sensors, or to Renault about the 1,000 Espaces which can burst into flames at any moment?

Consumer groups are telling us that the recall procedures are shambolic and ineffective. What is the Minister going to do about that? Is it not time that he put the interests of consumers before, not after, the interests of the big companies that dominate our car industry?

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans , Brecon and Radnor

For goods in the business supply chain, there are already in place quite stern measures of enforcement of the sort the hon. Gentleman desires. The point that he is making goes beyond the business supply chain to when the goods are in the hands of consumers. As I indicated in my main answer, when any difficulty arises in relation to product safety, there is a very clear incentive for manufacturers to deal with such matters by means of proper recall procedures.

The hon. Gentleman might be aware that the Department has been involved with the British Retail Consortium, the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Electrical Appliances and the Consumers Association in creating very clear guidance to cover the sort of points to which he referred.