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].
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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].
'(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.]