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Clothing: Safety

Volume 461: debated on Friday 15 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the reasons are for the differences in the safety flammability requirements set out by the Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985 for pyjamas and nightdresses; and if he will make a statement; (138095)

(2) what representations he has received requesting a review of the applicability of the Nightwear Regulations to pyjamas;

(3) if he will assess the merits of extending to pyjamas the flammability requirements of the Nightwear Regulations applying to other nightwear.

I have received no direct representations on this issue. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), on 21 May 2007, Official Report, column 1041W. I also refer the hon. Member to the replies I gave her on 14 June 2007, Official Report, column 1266W, covering the question of amending the Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985 to make it compulsory for children's pyjamas to meet the flammability requirements of the regulations. Regarding the reason for differentiating between pyjamas and nightdresses, a line was drawn between them on the basis that nightdresses involve free-flowing designs which are more likely to catch light from open fires. Nightdresses which comply with the flammability test of the regulations tend to be made from man-made fibres such as polyester. Pyjamas and nightdresses made from cotton would need to be treated with flame retardant chemicals in order to pass the same test. Such chemicals can affect the feel and comfortability of the fabric, and could pose problems for allergy sufferers. It is important to note that even chemically treated fabrics, and those with natural flame resistance, will not be completely safe from ignition, so parental guidance and supervision has a key role here, too. Legislation has to seek to provide a balance between appropriate levels of fire safety and health/comfortability requirements.