HC Deb 20 January 1993 vol 217 cc369-70
11. Mr. McAvoy

To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many warnings have been issued by his Department under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 to manufacturers and distributors of dangerous children's toys.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Technology (Mr. Edward Leigh)

Since October 1987 my Department has served 18 prohibition notices on named companies prohibiting them from supplying toy-like items which were considered to pose a choking hazard. My Department does, of course, from time to time offer informal advice to traders on matters relating to the safety of toys and other consumer goods.

Mr. McAvoy

With so many official recalls of dangerous children's toys, kettles, car tyres, washing machines and electric light bulbs, is it not clear to the Minister that his system is ineffective and leaves tens of thousands of consumers at serious risk from dangerous products?

Mr. Leigh

No, I do not take that view. Trading standards officers are responsible for enforcing the Consumer Protection Act. The hon. Gentleman's original question referred to toys. Under the directive on the safety of toys, trading standards officers have all the powers that they need. That directive is extremely detailed and lays down strict criteria as to how toys should be manufactured and retailed. There is no evidence that trading standards officers do not have sufficient powers to ensure that toys are safe.

Mr. Michael Brown

Is my hon. Friend aware that have a very great vested interest in receiving a successful answer to my question as I am a purchaser of toys for my god-daughter—his daughter? I believe that consumers, both purchasers and recipients, should have the benefit of some kind of British safety standard so that it might at least be clear that a toy is safe for my hon. Friend's daughter.

Mr. Leigh

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He will be relieved to hear that if he were to attempt to buy for my daughter anything called Splat Balls, Splat Eggs, Splat Tomatoes, Slime Balls, Sticky Balls, Tacky Wacky Wall Rollers, Spike Balls, Sticky Flying Hammers, Hand Hammer Sticky Catchers, Sticky Hand, Sticky Flicker or Sticky Troll, that would be illegal under consumer protection legislation.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths

How does the Minister defend the present recall system, which leaves four out of five dangerous articles in the hands of consumers? The system is ineffective and open to abuse by manufacturers and retailers.

Mr. Leigh

The hon. Gentleman is, of course, a slime ball and should get his tacky hands off—[interruption.]

Madam Speaker

Order. As hon. Members will have seen, I was rather distracted when the remark that has caused the interruption was made. However, from the reaction of the House I take it that it was made in good humour.

Mr. Leigh

Of course it was made in good humour, Madam Speaker. The hon. Gentleman and I get on extremely well in respect of all these matters, as he knows.

This is a serious matter, and if the hon. Gentleman has any evidence we shall ensure that it is passed to trading standards officers.