HC Deb 01 December 1980 vol 995 cc18-9W
Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many reports he has received of injury resulting from the high flammability of imported Indian dresses; on what date he received the first of these reports; whether he has ordered an investigation into the hazard; what form any such investigation is taking; when it started; what progress has been made; when he expects a report; and if he will make a statement, particularly about the risk to children.

Mr. Tebbit

I know of six instance s of injury resulting from imported Indian cotton dresses catching fire. The first report was received in June 1980. Any lightweight cotton fabric, such as that used in the manufacture of Indian cotton dresses, can catch fire from a flame and, once alight, the flames would spread rapidly across the dress as it would with some other flimsy fabrics. I believe that the public realise that. The Department has asked the importers of the dress involved in the most recent incident for samples of the fabric as it has been suggested that the material was set alight, not by a flame, but by a smouldering cigarette. I shall let the might hon. Member know the outcome of this investigation.

I have had no reports of accidents to children involving such dresses. However, in the course of a review of the flammability of clothing generally, officials are to propose to representatives of the clothing trade and consumer safety organisations a meeting early next year to discuss the possibilities for new measures, which would be in addition to those already taken for nightdresses. The needs of children and others most at risk will be taken fully into account.