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Retail and Manufacturing Consultation

Volume 542: debated on Friday 23 March 2012

The red tape challenge is playing a key role in reducing the burden of regulation that stifles growth. Unnecessary regulation has to be removed leaving only regulation that is necessary to safeguard the rights of consumers and employees.

The retail theme was the first to go live on the red tape challenge website and received almost 9,000 comments. The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Minister with responsibility for business and enterprise, my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr Prisk), announced on 28 July 2011 the range of retail regulations that the Government wished to scrap, simplify and abolish. Similarly, the manufacturing theme considered 128 regulations and seeks to scrap 47% of these.

Today we are publishing the retail and manufacturing consultation. This seeks views on the removal of regulations that have been identified under both the retail and manufacturing themes of the red tape challenge process as no longer required.

The Government also intend to amend the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010. This is to remove heavy-handed intervention to make it possible to lower the age at which Christmas crackers can be brought from 16 to 12.

Many of the regulations covered by this consultation were introduced to tackle a specific problem relating to a particular product such as; safety issues arising from poorly constructed bunk beds; or customers being mislead through disingenuous pricing. While these regulations may be very effective at stamping out the problem they were designed to tackle, they are not flexible enough to deal with new products or practices.

A new approach has been taken since these regulations were made, one which seeks to tackle the bigger problems facing consumers. The issue of price fixing for example is dealt with in all its forms and for all sectors of the economy by the Competition Act 1998, while the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 protect consumers from products which are unsuitable for use whatever their purpose and whatever danger they pose, provided the supporting European standards offer an acceptable level of safety protection.

A full list of the regulations to be amended and revoked are as follows:

Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/1554);

Bunk Beds (Entrapment Hazards) (Safety) Regulations 1987 (SI 1987/1337);

Children’s Clothing (Hood Cords) Regulations 1976 (SI 1976/2);

Imitation Dummies (Safety) Regulations 1993 (SI 1993/2923);

Pencils and Graphic Instruments (Safety) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/2406);

Wheeled Child Conveyances (Safety) Regulations 1997 (SI 1997/2866);

Gas cooking Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989/149);

Heating Appliances (Fireguards) Regulations 1991 (SI 1991/2693);

Gas Catalytic Heaters (Safety) Regulations 1984 (SI 1984/1802);

All-Terrain Motor Vehicle (Safety) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989/2288);

Cooking Utensils (Safety) Regulations 1972 (SI 1972/1957);

Indication of Prices (Beds) Order 1978 (SI 1978/1716);

Child Resistant Packaging and Tactile Danger Warning (Safety) (Revocation) Regulations 1992, already revoked, (SI 1992/2620);

Stands for Carry-cots (Safety) (Revocation) Regulations 1996, already revoked, (SI 1996/2756);

Magnetic Toys (Safety) (Revocation) Regulations 2009, already revoked, (SI 2009/1347).

The removal of these regulations will not reduce consumer protections but will increase clarity and simplify the law for business and consumers.

The consultation will stay open for eight weeks and close on Wednesday 23 May. This shorter period reflects the consultation that has already taken place through the red tape challenge website and the deregulatory nature of these regulations. Direct contact will be made with consumer rights groups and business representative groups to ensure sufficient opportunity is provided to consider the implications of the removal of these regulations.