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Electrical Product Recall

Volume 647: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2018

2. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the electrical product recall regime. (907071)

In March, we published the first Government-backed code of practice on recalls, and we have trained almost 300 trading standards professionals on its use. The Office for Product Safety and Standards is working with UK manufacturers and importers to ensure that their recall plans and processes are adequate.

Electrical Safety First tells me that the successful product recall rate for electrical goods is abysmally low, so why are the Government not doing more with platforms such as Amazon and eBay, which hold considerable consumer information, to find a solution to this problem?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question, and I understand her particular interest in this area. She is the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on home electrical safety, which I look forward to meeting at the end of the month. With particular regard to online traders, we need to ensure consumer confidence. Amazon and eBay already have primary authority partnerships with trading standards. They are advised by trading standards on the regulations and work with them to make sure that goods are removed as quickly as possible.

Those who do not wish us to leave the European Union claim that standards will fall, but will the Minister confirm that enhancing the UK’s product safety regime is in the industrial strategy, to give consumers in the UK and around the world ultimate confidence in the quality and safety of UK-manufactured goods in the future?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question, and I absolutely agree. Consumer product safety is a key part of our industrial strategy. The Government are determined to maintain a strong safety regime, and consumers can be confident that consumer protections already based in EU law will be retained. We want robust systems that identify unsafe products, share information and make sure that the checks at our borders and ports are right.

I am glad that the Government now take product recall seriously. They certainly did not in the case of the 5 million Whirlpool tumble dryers, many of which are still in our constituents’ homes. More catch fire every week, destroying peoples’ properties and putting their lives at risk. What will the Minister do about those?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question; he raises an extremely important point. The Office for Product Safety and Standards is already reviewing Whirlpool’s recall programme. Some 1.7 million dryers have been replaced or maintained under the programme. We are keeping it under review, and we will report once that review has taken place.

I welcome my hon. Friend to her new role. I also welcome the Government’s recent steps to improve the recall process. However, as the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter) said, tumble dryers continue to be a leading cause of devastating house fires, as happened to my constituent in Long Eaton just last week. Will my hon. Friend look at what more can be done to improve the recall process, and more importantly, what more can be done to improve the rights of consumers who have purchased faulty products?

I thank my hon. Friend for her question and express my condolences to her constituent over that horrific incident.

I assure my hon. Friend that the new Office for Product Safety and Standards takes this issue seriously. We are working with UK manufacturers on the recall process; we are keeping it under review. We want to make sure that the UK is recognised for having high standards and consumer protections, and my Department will continue to work on that.