Trading Standards Officers

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:32 pm on 18th November 1999.

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Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat 2:32 pm, 18th November 1999

To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to support and strengthen the work of trading standards officers in Scotland's local authorities. (S1O-660)

Photo of Nicol Stephen Nicol Stephen Liberal Democrat

Responsibility for the consumer protection measures implemented by the trading standards service in Great Britain rests with the UK Government, which in July set out a strategy for the service's future in the consumer white paper "Modern Markets: Confident Consumers". The Scottish Executive is working with the Department of Trade and Industry on the implementation of the proposals set out in the white paper.

Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat

Is the minister aware that, in Scotland, there are now fewer than 190 trading standards officers, enforcing more than 1,000 acts of Parliament? Will he encourage local authorities to take on more trainee TSOs, as there are apparently only 20 at present?

Photo of Nicol Stephen Nicol Stephen Liberal Democrat

The white paper recognises the strong advantages of locally based services but also the pressure on resources that is caused by the increasingly wide range of activities that are being carried out, especially in smaller local authority areas. Particular emphasis is given to the provision of sufficient training for new TSOs.

An additional £1.5 million has been allocated to assist potential candidates through first degree courses and to subsidise postgraduates in work study. The UK Government will invest £500,000 to improve distance learning material to assist unqualified staff to convert to a new diploma course. Those measures will benefit Scotland.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

We started a couple of minutes late, so I will allow one more question.