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Fur Imports

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) of 13 May 2003, Official Report, column 166W, what research her Department has carried out into the effectiveness of the testing of labelling schemes dealing with the importation of cat and dog fur; and what the estimated cost is of such schemes. [118259]

Mislabelling can already be prosecuted: it is an offence under the Trade Descriptions Act of 1968 to apply, by any means, false or misleading statements to goods including about their composition. However, the Trade Descriptions Act is difficult to enforce in the case of made-up goods containing fur until we can ensure a robust testing method for such products.We are working with other governments and scientific advisers to develop such an enforcement mechanism as soon as possible. The Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC Ltd.) have provided advice detailing why DNA testing of these products is both difficult and, as yet, unreliable (copies of this advice are available in the Libraries of the House). However, we have identified an alternative testing method (based on mass spectrometry) that may be more reliable and are working to determine whether this is the case.The cost of mass spectrometry testing is currently €200 per sample. However, the overall cost of any scheme to test labelling of products containing furs cannot easily be estimated. The cost would be dependent on the level of testing of products that the authorities responsible for enforcing the Trade Descriptions Act considered to be necessary.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) of 11 April 2003, Official Report, column 459W, when she will report to Parliament on the issue of the importation of cat and dog fur. [118260]

My noble Friend the Minister for Trade and Investment will report to Parliament on how work is progressing on this issue before the summer recess.