§ Mr. Luff
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if articles of precious metal which have been hallmarked in Spain may be offered for sale in the United Kingdom without being further hallmarked in the United Kingdom; and if he will place in the Library illustrations of the Spanish hallmarks. 
§ Dr. Howells
The Hallmarking Act 1973 was amended with effect from 1 January this year in accordance with Article 30 of the EC Treaty and European case law concerning the free circulation of goods, in order to allow articles of precious metal which have been struck with hallmarks by an independent body in an EEA State to be offered for sale in the United Kingdom without further hallmarking where the marks in question provide information which is equivalent to UK hallmarks and is capable of being understood by UK consumers.
It is ultimately a matter for the UK courts whether articles hallmarked by an assay office in Spain would meet these conditions, but the British Hallmarking Council—the body established by the 1973 Act—is of the 316W opinion that they will. I am placing in the Library of the House a copy of the information about the hallmarks of other EEA States which has been published by the BHC. This includes illustrations of individual marks. The information is not yet comprehensive and DTI is currently attempting to obtain fuller information.