§ Mr. Tom Boardman
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he proposes to take on the Report of the Mensforth Committee.
§ Mr. John Davies
I am grateful to Sir Eric Mensforth and his colleagues for458W their Report on the means of Authenticating the Quality of Engineering Products and Materials. This brings together a very useful assembly of information and advice on an important subject.
The Report discusses both mandatory and voluntary quality assurance.
Mandatory quality assurance stems from regulations made by Parliament in order to protect the safety, health and welfare of the citizen and the environment in which he lives. Where such regulations lay down product specifications, means must generally be provided for establishing that goods offered for sale conform to those specifications. Both the specifications themselves, and the means of demonstrating conformity, differ from one country to another. This creates the so-called "technical barriers to trade". The removal of such barriers is, and will continue to be, a matter of concern to the Government.
The findings of the Report relating to mandatory quality assurance are therefore being urgently studied by my Department in consultation with other Departments.
The Government are also concerned with the efficiency of quality assurance arrangements for the large purchases of industrial products which are made by Government Departments and other public bodies, and with avoiding duplication between the inspection arrangements of one public body and another and between public bodies and the private sector. Consultations have begun, in the light of this Report, to determine what further improvements can be made.
As recommended by the Report, my Department is consulting the Confederation of British Industry.