HC Deb 26 November 1997 vol 301 cc574-5W
Mr. Andy King

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement on the future of the United Kingdom Register of Quality Assessed Companies. [18268]

Mr. Battle

The Register was introduced in 1983 as a voluntary guide to ISO 9000 certification bodies and the companies they certify. The Register was compiled and published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office. My Department's role, as the accreditor of certification bodies, was to invite accredited certification bodies to contribute to the Register and to check the accuracy of those contributions before they were published. My Department also provided a complimentary copy of the Register to each contributing certification body.

In 1995 my Department established, as a company limited by guarantee, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) as the sole national accreditation body for certification bodies, testing and calibration laboratories and inspection bodies. Accreditation consequently passed from the public to the private sector, although my Department retains firm links with UKAS through a memorandum of understanding and a licensing agreement, As a result of this shift in responsibility, UKAS was asked to consider taking over my Department's functions in relation to the Register.

In 1996, following the privatisation of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, compilation and publication of the Register passed to The Stationery Office Ltd.

I have now agreed with UKAS and The Stationery Office Ltd. that the functions previously undertaken by my Department will pass to UKAS. In recognition of this, and of the increasingly international nature of accreditation and certification, the title of the Register will be amended to the QA Register with effect from the 1998 edition. The Stationery Office Ltd. will continue to publish the Register. The precise content and style of the Register will be matters for UKAS and The Stationery Office to decide jointly.

My Department will continue to fund complimentary copies of the Register for each contributing certification body. This provision will be reviewed after two years.