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Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his review of the construction and use regulations on tyre tread depths.

As I stated in reply to a question by my hon. Friend on 30 March, I intend to retain the existing minimum tyre tread depth requirement of 1 mm over three-quarters of the width, but to introduce regulations that will require the remaining quarter to have some visible tread pattern. I shall also require replacement tyres to meet the same international standards as original tyres fitted to new cars, and retreaded tyres to meet the criteria laid down in British standards.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Recognising my past and present interest in tyres and tyre safety, will she accept my sincere congratulations on the introduction of EC regulation 30, which will go a long way towards removing dangerous, downgraded killer tyres from our roads? Will she amplify by what regulation and means the visibility test on the remaining one-quarter of tread pattern will be, so as to prevent ambiguity for the police?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his welcome for EC regulation 30 on the extension of tyre safety. On the second part of his question, I shall have to investigate the details as this has not been finally decided. I should say, however, that it behoves every motorist to check his tyres regularly, because that is the way in which greater safety will be achieved.

What kind of scrutiny will take place at the ports to prevent the import of potentially highly dangerous tyres? We accept and welcome the regulation making them illegal, but does the Minister agree that there must be scrutiny to halt the import of such items? Is she aware that this country continually imports defective goods and equipment without any scrutiny at the ports?

There are already checks on motor equipment and accessories. Any particular curb on imports is a matter for my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade, but I shall certainly investigate ways to ensure that such tyres do not reach the market. As I said before, however, it behoves every motorist to keep checking his tyres.