§ The Under-Secretary of Stale for Trade and Industry (Mr. Anthony Grant)
Regulation 99 of the Department of Environment Construction and Use Regulations forbids the fitting to motor vehicles of tyres unsuitable for use on them. There has been some importation of tyres suitable for use on farm vehicles only but their use on motor vehicles is forbidden by the regulation. The Government are instituting an urgent inquiry into this matter.
§ Mr. Benn
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for answering the Question. Will he consider the following action? First, will he ban the import of all tyres which do not bear the manufacturer's name, given the fact that British manufacturers destroy tyres which are below the highest quality standards? Secondly, will he insist that all imported tyres are covered by a certificate that they have reached the manufacturer's quality control standards? Thirdly, will he seek urgent discussions to harmonise international standards in the quality control of tyres? Fourthly, will he seek the cooperation of the broadcasting authorities to help publicise to motorists what would be appalling dangers in terms of road safety, at high speeds especially, if large numbers of these tyres are entering the country which are in some cases put on public auction?
§ Mr. Grant
I can give the right hon. Gentleman an assurance on most of these points. The banning of imports is a matter which will be considered in the inquiry that we are having. Some of these tyres can properly be used off the road and for agricultural purposes. The 669 possibility of certification is a matter that we shall also consider urgently. The right hon. Gentleman's other point was about urgent discussions with our partners in Europe about quality standards. Certainly we shall take part in such discussions. Finally, on publicity, I should welcome any opportunity to make it clear to the motoring public that many organisations concerned have advised the motorist that he should always buy his tyres from recognised tyre specialists.
§ Mr. Fowler
Do not these imports indicate a most disgraceful form of racketeering? Can my hon. Friend confirm the report which appeared in the Daily Telegraph that the first imports of these tyres occurred two months ago? Will he also confirm that it is possible to take criminal proceedings against the sellers of such tyres?
§ Mr. Grant
I cannot confirm the newspaper report in question. We know of only one load, which I believe came into Hull. We heard about it recently. The other matter raised by my hon. Friend is one for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. But there are these regulations which create criminal offences.
§ Mr. Arthur Davidson
Will the hon. Gentleman consider introducing legislation to make it an offence to sell for use on cars tyres which do not bear the manufacturer's name? What steps has the hon. Gentleman taken to prosecute dealers who to their knowledge have sold unsafe tyres to be used by the public? Surely this must be an offence under the Trade Descriptions Act.
§ Mr. Bidwell
Will the hon. Gentleman look at the possibility of discriminating between the standards of tyres which may be used on vehicles for agricultural purposes and those used on road vehicles? Will there be proper consulta- 670 tion with the trade unions concerned— those organising agricultural workers and so on—since it could be equally dangerous to such a worker if there were a burst due to the wall of a tyre not being up to the mark. Is the hon. Gentleman also aware that there is concern among tyre-producing workers in this country about what they claim is the amount of dumping from Japan and Spain?
§ Mr. Grant
With respect, there is a difference between tyres which one uses for the road and those used for agricultural purposes. I have in mind especially trailers, where there is not such a danger in using tyres of a low standard, though there would be if they were used on roadways. This fact was taken into consideration when the regulations were framed. We are glad to discuss with and consult anyone—trade unions or otherwise—to consider whether the regulations are adequate. As for anti-dumping, we have anti-dumping regulations. I do not think that there is any evidence at the moment that this has arisen because of dumping. If there is evidence of dumping, we can take steps under the existing law.