HC Deb 10 May 1960 vol 623 cc173-5
3. Mr. Whitlock

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will take steps to ensure that all imported electrical appliances are wired in accordance with the British Standards Colour Code.

15. Mr. Darling

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress is being made towards the adoption of the European code of coloured cables for domestic electrical appliances; and whether he will either prohibit the importation of foreign appliances or introduce regulations to impose informative markings on all such appliances, until such time as an international agreement is concluded.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. John Rodgers)

My right hon. Friend understands that there are good prospects of final agreement on a new European standard during this month. He has no powers at present to impose such prohibitions or regulations as the hon. Member suggests; the recommendations of the Committee on Consumer Protection in this and other respects are now under consideration by my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Whitlock

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary realise that he appears to be shockingly complacent about this matter? Does he not realise that the interim Report of the Molony Committee suggests that the present danger is particularly grave and that at least one fatality and some near misses have already occurred because of the difference in the wiring of these appliances compared with our own? Does he not know that accidents do not arise from misuse or carelessness or inexpert tinkering with devices but because of the genuine confusion caused by this wiring? Will he treat the matter as extremely urgent and not await the international agreement of which he spoke?

Mr. Rodgers

The forcefulness of the Committee's remarks on this topic is recognised, but the matter cannot be considered in isolation from the recommendations on general legislation. The hon. Member cannot have heard me correctly when I said that it was hoped that these international negotiations would be completed this month.

Mr. Darling

If it is impossible for the Board of Trade to make importers put informative markings on the equipment they import until agreement on European standards is reached, is it possible for the Board of Trade to have consultations with the importers, or their trade associations, to try to get some satisfactory voluntary arrangements about informative markings?

Mr. Rodgers

That is a very good suggestion and I should like to look into it.