HC Deb 16 January 1964 vol 687 cc386-8
9. Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take the necessary steps, legislative or otherwise, to ban the production and sale of inflammable nightdresses, in view of the number of accidents caused to children and others.

22. Mr. George Craddock

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of recent fatal accidents from burns, he will introduce legislation making it compulsory for manufacturers to use non-flammable materials for children's nightwear.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Henry Brooke)

The Committee on Consumer Protection considered this matter very carefully and came to the conclusion that statutory intervention would not be justified at that time. In view, however, of the tragic fatalities and injuries which continue to result from nightwear catching fire, I propose to open discussions immediately with the trade and other interested parties on the possibility of taking effective action by means of regulations under the Consumer Protection Act, 1961.

Mr. Mallalieu

Is the Secretary of State aware that that Answer will give profound satisfaction to a very large number of people? In the meantime, would he use what influence he has with local authorities and hospitals to try to discourage the use of nightdresses as opposed to pyjamas in the homes and hospitals for which they are responsible?

Mr. Brooke

We are doing—so is the Consumer Council—everything possible by publicity to draw attention to the dangers of inflammable nightdresses. Matters concerning hospitals are for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. In local authority children's homes the local authorities normally take care to ensure that fires are extremely well guarded, because they are aware of the danger. I think that my Answer will show how seriously I view this matter.

Mr. Craddock

I should like to support what my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) has said, and thank the Secretary of State for the consideration which he has given this question. I am sure that there is no need to dilate on this. He no doubt is aware that there are alternative manufacturers from whom these purchases can be made and that the choice has been widened during the past 12 months, and I am sure that people will have cheaper facilities.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman ask a question? It is Question Time.

Mr, Craddock

I hope that the Minister will look into that wider part of the question.

Mr. Brooke

I have given a comprehensive Answer and it shows that I am giving personal attention to the matter.

Mr. Wade

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I welcome his announcement? As a temporary measure, would it be practicable to make it compulsory for some kind of warning notice to be attached to material of this kind to make it quite clear that it is inflammable?

Mr. Brooke

The best thing is for me to have these consultations as quickly as possible.

Mrs. McLaughlin

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the length of time it took the British Standards Institution to decide upon a standard for inflammable materials? Will he give an assurance that this matter will not be treated in such a dilatory fashion, and agree that it must be dealt with very quickly indeed? May I also thank him for what he has said this afternoon?

Mr. Brooke

In the Answer I gave, when I talked about discussions I used the word "immediately."