HL Deb 17 March 2005 vol 670 cc1-2WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government's response to the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering report Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: Opportunities and Uncertainties, has been published today.

The report was commissioned by Lord Sainsbury in June 2003 to, summarise current scientific knowledge on nanotechnology, identify applications of nanotechnology, both current and potential, with indications of when they might be developed, identify what environmental, health and safety, ethical and societal implications or uncertainties may arise from the use of the technology, both now and in the future and identify areas where additional regulation should be considered. The report was published in July 2004 and has 21 recommendations to government.

Our response sets out the Government's agenda on nanotechnologies to ensure that the Government have clear policies and regulation, informed by good research, in place to ensure the responsible development of nanotechnologies in the UK.

The response includes:

A review of current safety regulations to make sure that safeguards for workers' health and the environment are robust;

A new cross-government group to co-ordinate all aspects of research into nanoscience to underpin safety assessments;

A consultation with industry and the EU on how companies could disclose their safety testing methods and label consumer products; and

The Government will facilitate a dialogue with the science community and the public to explore both aspirations and concerns around the development of nanotechnologies.

Our programme will be reviewed by the Council for Science and Technology after two and five years (i.e. 2007, 2010).

The Prime Minister, the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology and the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology will be sent copies of this report, and I have placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses. An electronic version of the report has been placed on the Office of Science and Technology website at www.ost.gov.uk/ policy/issues/index.htm.