§ Mrs. Ray Michie
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will make a statement on the reasons for the proposed removal of the statutory qualification from the Weights and Measures Act 1985; 
(2) what consultations his Department has held with (a) business and (b) consumers' groups in respect of the proposed removal of the statutory qualification from the Weights and Measures Act 1985; 
(3) what assessment he has made of the impact on (a) consumers and (b) business of the proposed removal of the statutory qualification from the Weights and Measures Act 1985; 
(4) what plans he has to replace the statutory qualification in the Weights and Measures Act 1985. 
§ Mr. Byers
As part of the Government's new consumer strategy as set out in the recent White Paper "Modern Markets: Confident Consumers", we have been consulting on the basis of the document "Fair Trade: a consultation document on modernising the law on the sale of goods sold by quantity" on proposals to update and simplify weights and measures law. This includes how the law is enforced.
The consultation document proposed removal of the requirement in the Act for weights and measures inspectors to have a special certificate from the Department of Trade and Industry. Instead, either a general requirement would be placed on local authorities to ensure that those carrying out enforcement functions under the Act had appropriate training, skills and knowledge, paying regard to guidance on training and qualifications in a Code of Practice; or, alternatively I would have power to approve particular qualifications for particular purposes. These proposals have been brought forward as part of a broader examination of consumer protection enforcement (as described in the White Paper), in the light of the range of duties and responsibilities for enforcement in this area.
Both the White Paper and the consultation document referred to were widely distributed to both business and consumer organisations, as well as to enforcement authorities. We have received a number of replies, which are currently being considered. Further consultation is envisage before any final decisions are made.