Skip to main content

Vehicle Parts: Counterfeiting

Volume 414: debated on Friday 31 October 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

11.10 a.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their attention has been drawn to the statement of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders that at least 40 major companies are having their parts counterfeited; that the counterfeit parts are being sold widely in Africa, India and the Far East; and that one firm is losing £2 million a year in the Nigerian market.

My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are aware of the concern expressed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders about the counterfeiting of vehicle parts. The Government are also aware of reports of sales of counter-felt parts in a number of countries, and, indeed, of the difficulties a company in which a United Kingdom manufacturer has an interest is having in Nigeria. But in all cases the Government are ready to do whatever they can to assist the United Kingdom manufacturers concerned, who suffer loss of both sales and reputation from this practice.

My Lords, is the Minister aware that, in the United Kingdom domestic market, about £450 million-worth of spare parts are sold through do-it-yourself shops; and that, in a recent survey carried out by leading British brake manufacturers into the quality of 32 of the lesser-known makes of brake pads, only 13 were considered to be satisfactory by those standards, 7 were marginal and 12 failed outright? In view of those two points, is not a safety factor involved in the sale of other than genuine and approved parts in the United Kingdom alone?

My Lords, the House will be grateful to hear the value of the parts which are sold every year in the United Kingdom, but if my right honourable friend is to issue warnings or is to take any action on safety grounds he requires specific evidence. Therefore, if my noble friend would get in touch with my right honourable friend, or the department, then I am sure the department would be able to take action, for, indeed, it has a great interest in safety matters of this type.

My Lords, in view of the two replies that the Minister has given, would the Government consider it desirable to set in motion an inquiry as to the desirability or practicability of having approved standards for equipment and accessories in connection with cars, particularly in view of the attention that everybody gives to safety standards?

My Lords, I think the existing British standards are followed by manufacturers in this country; and, indeed, there are provisions in the Road Traffic Act setting out grounds for prosecutions in cases where defective parts have led to a loss of safety or an accident. I do not think we would want to take further action than that at this stage.

My Lords, does the selling of these parts constitute an offence in law; or can it be dealt with by the Office of Fair Trading? May I ask what additional measures the Government are able to take in the matter of these passing-off attempts?

My Lords, to answer the first part of my noble friend's supplementary question, this can be dealt with by the patent laws which are applicable to this country and to 90 other nations. Where there is clear evidence of breach of the patent law the Government may take action, but I do not think I can say anything more specific than that to my noble friend.

My Lords, does the noble Lord recall the supplementary question which raised the matter of safety standards? In that connection, has any contact been made with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents?

My Lords, I understand that the department has been in touch with RoSPA and the answer is awaited from that society.