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Product Safety

Volume 663: debated on Tuesday 16 July 2019

We are providing £12 million a year of new funding through the Office for Product Safety and Standards to strengthen national capacity for product safety enforcement. The OPSS provides specialist expertise, scientific advice, support and training for trading standards, and it leads on national product safety challenges to protect consumers.

I recently attended an Electrical Safety First event on the dangers of buying second-hand electrical goods. The reality is that many people buy second-hand electrical goods, sometimes not by choice, so will the Minister commit, in the light of the Whirlpool recall, to a public awareness campaign on how to buy and use electrical products safely?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that question. Last week we took part in a Westminster Hall debate secured by the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris). The OPSS is currently working with Electrical Safety First on various campaigns, to which we have an ongoing commitment. Consumer protection and consumer education are important.

Given the difficulty of tracing the whereabouts of half a million potentially faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers, what discussions has the Minister had with the OPSS on developing a proposal for product registration at point of sale?

Again, I thank my hon. Friend for his question. In last week’s Westminster Hall debate I committed to developing and testing the ability for mandatory registration of electrical products, which is something we are looking at. It was initiated in a discussion at the Consumer Protection Partnership last Thursday, and we are hoping to get outcomes in the near future.

The Government have known for four years that there were 5.5 million Whirlpool tumble dryers in homes across the UK that were liable to catch fire. Last month, the Minister gave notice that she intended to order the recall of those dryers still in use, but now she has agreed a voluntary recall with the company. Will she reconsider that and use the powers she has? If she does not, how will we know that Whirlpool is taking this seriously?

I recognise the hon. Gentleman’s concern in this regard. He is absolutely correct to say that we issued a notice of intent to recall on Whirlpool. It submitted its proposal, which we assessed. We also took advice from an expert panel, comprising an independent QC and chief scientific officers from the Health and Safety Executive, the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We decided not only to accept the proposal, which has been published, but to issue a regulation 28 notice with regard to further information that needs to be shared with the OPSS, so that we can review the recall process.