HL Deb 07 July 1992 vol 538 cc1060-2

3.25 p.m.

Lord Clinton-Davis asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will endeavour during their Presidency of the Council of the European Community to ensure the adoption of the proposed amendments to the EC directive on the marketing of cosmetics.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Baroness Denton of Wakefield)

My Lords, Her Majesty's Government hope that the member states will be able to reach a common position on those proposals during the United Kingdom presidency.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, would the noble Baroness not agree that the higher status which is accorded to animal welfare, not least by the Maastricht declaration on the protection of animals, should be reflected by the Council of Ministers agreeing to phase out—and to do so quickly—all testing of cosmetics on animals, not just confining it to skin and eye irritancy testing?

Baroness Denton of Wakefield

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord. We should like to see all testing on animals phased out. As soon as there are validated alternatives, we should wish to see that.

Lord Williams of Elvel

My Lords, what validated alternatives are the Government suggesting to the Commission so that the directive can be properly amended?

Baroness Denton of Wakefield

My Lords, validated alternatives are being worked on. Her Majesty's Government drew attention to the skin and eye irritancy tests. In March of this year my predecessor asked for the target date of 1998 to be set because it would appear that that target can be achieved. As soon as other targets can be achieved relating to the problems of cancer-inducing substances and acute and repeated dose toxicity, we shall again be in the lead as regards the phasing out of animal testing.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, does the Minister accept that it is extremely important that there should be a Europe-wide ban so that cosmetic testing in other countries across the world will also be affected? If it is a European ban, does that not mean that British industry would not be at a disadvantage and, therefore, that the Government should pursue that course as vigorously as they can?

Baroness Denton of Wakefield

My Lords, I agree with the noble Baroness. It is important that we should pursue that course with the utmost conviction.

Lord Rodney

My Lords, would the fairer sex be very much less fair if cosmetics were phased out altogether?

Baroness Denton of Wakefield

My Lords, I should point out that the definition of cosmetics includes soap, toothpaste and deodorants. Your Lordships may wish us to continue our work in those areas.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, does the noble Baroness not accept that the proposal advanced by the Commission takes full account of the possibility that validated alternatives may not be ready by 1998? Consequently, why can the Minister not go along with the idea at this stage of a total ban and allowance for the qualification to take effect if need be?

Baroness Denton of Wakefield

My Lords, I believe I said clearly that we support the directives. There is an explicit provision out of the parliamentary requirement that, if non-animal validated tests were not available, then the matter would be deferred until they were.