To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress he has made introducing requirements for firms manufacturing, supplying and erecting safety fences on motorways to have management systems certificated by independent certification bodies accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Certification Bodies.
Publication of the specification for highway works in October 1986 announced the Department's intention to introduce these new quality assurance requirements in safety fence contracts from January 1988. The NACCB has accredited two certification bodies which have certificated a number of companies. The first contracts requiring the suppliers to have a certificated quality management system have now been let and we expect this method of achieving quality assurance for safety fencing to be applied increasingly from now on. As yet, not as many firms as we had hoped have achieved certificated quality assurance status. In view of this, where there are insufficient firms with certificated status to maintain competition and progress with the Department's safety fence programme some contracts may be placed with other firms. In those cases, we shall ensure that the qualtiy control checks carried out under existing contractural arrangements are applied rigorously and thoroughly.The Department will continue to encourage firms to obtain certification for their quality management schemes and seek to make this a requirement in all contracts. Grants available from the Department of Trade and Industry under its enterprise initiative should be of particular benefit in enabling this sector of industry to introduce quality management systems meeting our requirements.