asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will introduce legislation to ensure that all beds sold in the United Kingdom are manufactured from fire-resistant materials as used for hospital and prison beds; and if he will make a statement.
No, but the report by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission mentioned in the Daily Star on 19 April is being carefully studied, and I shall be consulting British bedding manufacturers on the possibility of increasing the fire resistance of beds and mattresses. Inevitably it will be many years before more fire resistant beds in the shops can be expected to lead to fewer deaths and injuries in bed fires in people's homes.It is not practicable to produce a completely fire proof bed. Smoking is the biggest single cause of bed fires, and until people follow the simple rule that one must never smoke in bed there will he tragic deaths from this cause.Prison mattresses can be made to achieve a high degree of fire resistance, but they are less comfortable than most people would like. Similarly, it is doubtful whether many people would be willing to adopt the restricted choice of materials for blankets, sheets and similar items which some hospitals have introduced in conjunction with treatment of mattresses in order to give the whole bed a certain degree of fire resistance.Nevertheless there is scope for improvement and I shall keep the House informed.