HL Deb 08 May 2001 vol 625 c155WA
Lord Harrison

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will encourage the European Commission to implement permanent legislation to ban flexible plastic toys and children's items containing phthalates. [HL2087]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville

The Commission has issued a draft Council Directive which would make permanent the temporary ban (introduced in December 1999) on the use of six phthalates in articles intended to be mouthed by children under three years of age and require the labelling of phthalate-containing toys and childcare articles for the under threes.

In discussions on the proposed Directive, the UK, following the advice of the Department of Health, and in line with the opinion of the Commission's Independent Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (SCTEE), has adopted the position that the scientific evidence does not support the claim that phthalates are hazardous provided that the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) is not exceeded. Much is known about phthalates but very little is known about the effect of substitutes which could replace them. For this reason, we believe that the regulation of phthalates through migration testing is a practicable alternative to restrictions through banning and we continue to support the ongoing work which is being done, with the involvement of the Commission's Joint Research Council, to develop an acceptable test method.