Laser Pens

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th September 2016.

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Photo of Rehman Chishti Rehman Chishti Conservative, Gillingham and Rainham 12:00 am, 13th September 2016

What assessment he has made of recent trends in the sale and supply of laser pens.

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Department is absolutely committed to ensuring that only safe products are placed on the market, including laser pens. Given the risks associated with misuse of such pens, we are reviewing what more we can do to protect consumers and aircraft.

Photo of Rehman Chishti Rehman Chishti Conservative, Gillingham and Rainham

I thank the Minister for that answer. In the past year, there have been over 1,300 incidents in which certain laser pens were used to target both civilian and military aircraft and transport infrastructure. Will the Minister support my private Member’s Bill, supported by the British Airline Pilots Association, to regulate the sale of laser pens?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his persistence and passion in pursuing this important issue—there are significant risks attached to misuse. I assure him that the Government are taking the matter seriously. A cross-Whitehall group is urgently looking at our options, including the case for further legislation. In that context, I am happy to meet him.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Will the Minister help the leading manufacturer of laser pens, which is situated in my constituency? The company is—or was—a great supporter of the northern powerhouse and will be attending Thursday’s big conference in Yorkshire on innovation and creativity, supported by the all-party parliamentary group on Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire. It wants to know why Lord O’Neill was suddenly pulled as a speaker with no substitute offered. We hear that the Government will have nothing to do with elected mayors or the northern powerhouse. What is the situation now?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his ingenuity in asking a question that he was frustrated about not getting answered previously. I refute absolutely any suggestion that the Government have lost any commitment to the northern powerhouse. As for the specifics of speaking engagements, if he would like to speak to me afterwards, I can try to throw some light on the matter.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Speaker of the House of Commons

Mr Sheerman is a well-known exponent of what I might call the shoehorning technique. Whatever he wants to raise, he shoehorns it into a question somehow. He could probably write a book on the subject—and probably will.