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Imports (Safety Standards)

Volume 15: debated on Monday 14 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to be able to make a statement on proposals put to him by the local authorities co-ordinating body on trading standards concerning compliance with safety standards in the case of imported products.

[pursuant to her reply, 10 December, 1981, c. 450.]: I assume that the hon. Member is referring to a suggestion made by the local authorities co-ordinating body on trading standards (LACOTS) that importers be required to notify their local authority when they import, from suppliers outside the European Community, any new product which is subject to consumer safety regulations. This I understand might help local authorities to prevent at source the marketing of imported goods that do not comply with the regulations rather than waiting until they reach the shops and have been sold to the general public.Like the local authorities, I am concerned that potentially dangerous goods may be imported in large numbers without an early check on their safety. Under consumer safety legislation the supply of goods is illegal if they do not comply with safety regulations, but there are no powers to check goods for safety upon importation. Nor are there powers to require importers to provide local authorities with information about new products. It has, therefore, been suggested to LACOTS that we might co-operate on a voluntary pilot scheme for import notification on a product range that LACOTS has been asked to propose.