§ Mr. Mitchell
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has made to the EC Commission on the use of the lion mark for British silver; and what proposals he has in respect of the future use of the lion mark for British silver. 1049W
§ Dr. Howells
During negotiations on a Commission proposal for a directive on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of Member States relating to articles of precious metal, my Department has consistently sought to ensure that the lion mark can continue to be struck on Sterling silver. Because single market rules now require the United Kingdom to accept a wider range of standards of finenesses for silver, I am, however, proposing to amend the Hallmarking Act to require that the fineness of silver articles be shown millesimally (as is already the case for gold) to aid consumer understanding. However, where requested, the UK assay offices would continue to strike the lion on Sterling silver alongside the figures "925".