Whirlpool Tumble Dryers: Product Recall - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:17 pm on 17th June 2019.

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Photo of Lord Henley Lord Henley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 6:17 pm, 17th June 2019

My Lords, I am not sure where the noble Baroness gets her figures, but they were faintly alarmist. She claimed that a third of all fires caused by domestic appliances were caused by tumble dryers. The figures I have show that the number of fires caused by domestic tumble dryers is coming down. There were only 724 last year, down from 808 the previous year—a 10% fall. I am told that in the figures for 2017-18, if you take all domestic appliances, some 16,000 fires were caused by electric appliances—so tumble dryers did not cause a third of them, as the noble Baroness claimed.

I will not defend Whirlpool, but it has mounted a fairly large operation to try to identify where the appliances are. It is reckoned that Whirlpool has got to something like 50% of the tumble dryers that need to be looked at, and there are probably another 500 or 1,000 or so to get at. We welcome Whirlpool’s response on what it is doing to identify those machines, get at them and make the appropriate modifications. As I said in the Statement, the number of fires in modified appliances is significantly lower than in those that have not been modified. I must repeat that the manufacturer has the responsibility to ensure product safety, and it should be for the Government—which is what we have done here—to take the appropriate action to hold it to account.