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Product Recalls and Safety: Working Group

Volume 627: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2017

I am today placing in the Libraries of both Houses, the report of the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety.

The report is a culmination of longer term, ongoing work on product safety and recalls. An independent review of the recall system was undertaken by Lynn Faulds Wood in 2015, with her review published in February 2016.

The Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety was established in October 2016 to build on the initial work by industry to implement the review. The Working Group was tasked with providing options to support a tangible improvement in the safety of white goods and the recalls system, working to a clearly defined timetable.

The Working Group is chaired by Neil Gibbins, former Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Devon and Somerset and Chief Executive of the Institution of Fire Engineers. Its membership brings together product safety experts, the fire service and trading standards professionals to ensure that we utilise expertise in the relevant fields to identify necessary improvements to the system of product recalls and safety.

Key recommendations include:

a need for centralised technical and scientific resource capability to support decision making and co-ordination of activity of Local Authorities and the businesses that they regulate;

a detailed code of practice should be developed with input from all relevant stakeholders; this should be informed by behavioural insights research. This should set out expected good practice with regard to product safety corrective actions (including recalls);

full consideration should be given to establishing central capacity to co-ordinate product safety corrective actions at a central level;

systematic and sustainable ways to capture and share data and intelligence should be established and agreed by relevant parties—this should make use of existing systems used by trading standards and the fire service;

manufacturers and retailers should continue to work together and through standards-setting bodies to develop technological solutions to product marking and identification;

Primary authority provides a key mechanism for ensuring that businesses, local authority and BEIS expertise is shared to ensure the protection of consumers; and

the registration of appliances and other consumer goods with manufacturers by consumers should be encouraged to make corrective actions (including recalls) more effective.

Significant progress has already been made by the Working Group, supported by my officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in relation to the development of a code of practice on corrective action and product recalls, and a public consultation will be published shortly. Further work to promote the registration of appliances, understand consumer responses to safety information and recall communications is set out in the report as an important step towards a strengthened product safety framework.

We are also keen to see continued progress on work to promote the registration of appliances and understand consumer responses to safety information and recall communications. My Department has supported the behavioural insights work, which underpins the understanding of consumer behaviour. We have also enhanced the product recalls webpages on to make it easier to access information about white goods subject to a recall on grounds of a fire safety risk and made links to the Register My Appliance website.

The Working Group recognised the important role that primary authority partnerships can play in achieving better safety outcomes. My Department continues to champion and push forward the scheme. The legislative changes which we are bringing into effect in October will extend and simplify the scheme so that as many businesses as possible can access its benefits.

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, I asked the Working Group to consider whether there was any further work or recommendations for their report. The Working Group have completed that review and concluded that the original report remains valid and relevant. I publish that report today, with copies of the documents placed in the Libraries of both Houses.