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Mr. Speaker: I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern, and, although I do my best to control this place, I have no control over the other place. I am afraid that I cannot help him.



Mr. Jimmy Hood presented a Bill to make provision about the number of people allowed on shop premises; and for related purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on 19 July 2002, and to be printed [Bill 160].

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Food Safety (Amendment)

4.34 pm

Mr. David Drew (Stroud): I beg to move,

The Bill is not a radical measure. It is based on common sense and would reduce the risks faced by young children from a most unlikely source—chocolate.

Chocolate eggs containing toys are popular sweets with many young children. Although some hon. Members may not be familiar with those products, I am sure that many are. Inside the egg is a plastic capsule containing a toy, usually in small component parts. The combination of chocolate and toys can be a dangerous one for small children, and some accidents have resulted in fatalities. The manufacturing process involves heat, which means that the capsule often smells of chocolate. In addition, the way in which a child typically breaks open one of the eggs pushes the chocolate into contact with the toy container. A small child will be inclined to put the toy into his or her mouth and will not automatically distinguish the edible chocolate from the inedible toy.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) was Minister with responsibility for consumer affairs, he was invited to break open one of the eggs, and he could clearly smell and see the chocolate on the capsule. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) conceded during an Adjournment debate on the subject when he was a Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry, toddlers are inclined to put all sorts of things in their mouths, and what could be more tempting than a small toy part from a container smelling of chocolate?

Many doctors and consumer bodies have confirmed that the capsule can smell of chocolate, which encourages children to put the capsule or toy into their mouth. A senior ear, nose and throat consultant who has specialised in items swallowed by children told me:

At least three deaths have involved choking on the capsule or on a toy part from a chocolate egg. That is an appalling fact, and it relates only to accidents in this country. There is a great deal of evidence of many such incidents in Europe. Philip Whitehead MEP has received huge support for changes in the European directive which are based on medical experience across Europe, from Greece and Germany in particular. In addition, I have been in contact with the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, which is concerned about its members' liability at law. It also realises that they need assistance in ensuring that consumers are aware of the dangers of such products.

For every fatality there have no doubt been hundreds of choking incidents from the products, and I have been notified of several other cases of near misses. Let me give two examples. A constituent who wrote to me said:

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Another letter was forwarded to me by a doctor. It said:

If we asked any parent whether toys embedded in chocolate were different from other toys, they would think it obvious that children would be likely to place such toys in their mouths. The risk has been recognised in the United States for many years, so much so that since the 1930s, it has been illegal to place or embed non-food items inside foodstuffs.

Regulators take a different approach in the United Kingdom and Europe. They simply require that the products carry a warning that they might be swallowed and are unsuitable for children under 36 months. However, the three UK fatalities and the subjects of the incidents I just mentioned were all older than that. As one of the parents stated:

The eggs have to carry safety labelling, but the labels often ignore several of the most important guidelines on warning labels published by the Department of Trade and Industry. I recently received a report from a leading body that assesses the clarity of such warnings. It examined these products and concluded:

The testers found:

which endorses the point that I have just made.

The DTI has done nothing to secure compliance with its guidelines. It says that it is a matter for trading standards officers, and I hope that they will now look at breaches

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of the labelling guidelines and remove products from the shelves if they do not comply. I hope that they will be fortified by the report's unambiguous finding that the labelling on the leading brands is inadequate.

Many hon. Members have young children, and I hope that they share my concern that unnecessary risk to them should be avoided. I have met some of the parents whose children choked to death and I do not want others to suffer as they have. More than 40 MPs have already written to me calling for action. A number of Members joined me at a meeting in the House of Commons with Ferrero, the makers of Kinder Eggs. Ferrero refused to accept that there was a problem or to consider modifying its product. That is grossly irresponsible.

This Bill therefore proposes two simple changes based on the responsible lead taken by Nestlé and Mars, which have withdrawn products of this kind, and Cadbury, which adapted its Yowie product for the UK market after listening to concerns about safety. The Bill would impose a requirement that toys contained within foodstuffs be in one piece rather than in small parts, and it specifies a minimum size for the capsule to reduce the risk of ingestion. Just doing that would, in the view of doctors, significantly reduce the chances of small children choking on these items.

The changes have the backing of the Consumers Association and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. I hope that the House will add its support. If not, when the next child dies from this cause, we will know that we had the power to prevent it.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. David Drew, Mr. David Amess, Mr. Hilton Dawson, Mrs. Janet Dean, Ms Julia Drown, Andrew George, Mr. Gordon Marsden, Dr. Doug Naysmith, Diana Organ, Ms Gisela Stuart, Ms Joan Walley and Mrs. Ann Winterton.

Food Safety (Amendment)

Mr. David Drew accordingly presented a Bill to make provision in respect of inedible items embedded within foodstuffs: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 19 July, and to be printed [Bill 161].

3 Jul 2002 : Column 245

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Orders of the Day

Finance Bill

[1st Allotted Day]

Not amended in the Committee and as amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

New Clause 20

Stamp duty and stamp duty reserve tax: power to extend exceptions relating to recognised exchanges

'(1) The Treasury may by regulations extend the application of the provisions mentioned in subsection (2) to any market (specified by name or by description) that is not a recognised exchange but is prescribed by order under section 118(3) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (c.8).
(2) The provisions referred to in subsection (1) are—
sections 80A and 80C of the Finance Act 1986 (c. 41) (stamp duty: exceptions for sales to intermediaries and for repurchases and stock lending); and
sections 88A and 89AA of that Act (stamp duty reserve tax: exceptions for intermediaries and for repurchases and stock lending).
(3) In subsection (1) "recognised exchange" means an EEA exchange, a recognised foreign exchange or a recognised foreign options exchange within the meaning of the provisions mentioned in subsection (2).
(4) Regulations under this section may provide for the application of the provisions mentioned in subsection (2) subject to any adaptations appearing to the Treasury to be necessary or expedient.
(5) Regulations under this section shall be made by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the House of Commons.'.—[Ruth Kelly.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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