Select Committee on European Scrutiny Sixteenth Report


Letter from the Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt MP, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

to the Chairman of the Committee

Testing of cosmetic products (22837)

Thank you for your letter of 12 December regarding the above. I am very sorry indeed that you did not receive my letter of 22 November explaining why I intended to lift the UK Scrutiny Reserve on this text at the Internal Market Consumers and Tourism Council (IMCTC) on 26 November. A copy of my letter is attached.

I understand your concerns, but I stand by my decision to lift the scrutiny reserve in this particular case. A negative vote by the UK at the IMCTC would have helped to create a blocking minority and the text would have failed. It is important that this dossier moves forward in Europe as quickly as possible, so that the non-WTO compatible full marketing ban which appears in the existing 6th Amendment to the Cosmetics Directive can be replaced by a marketing ban linked to internationally validated alternative tests to animal testing. We believe that this will deliver very real benefits in animal welfare; for the first time it will commit all Member States to banning any testing of cosmetics on animals across the European Union, and enshrine in EU law a firm commitment to banning sales of cosmetics tested on animals where there are valid alternative tests.

Unfortunately, I am unable to give oral evidence to the Scrutiny Committee on 9 January as I am in Japan on an official visit. However, my colleague Melanie Johnson who is the Minister with lead responsibility for this area, has agreed to attend in my place. I understand that my officials have already spoken to the Clerk of the Committee about this.

Let me also apologise for the slightly delayed response to Michael Connarty's post-IMCTC Parliamentary Question tabled on 28 November. I wanted to ensure that the fullest possible response was given without giving rise to any ambiguity. The response was tabled on 10 December.

I am copying this letter to Lord Brabazon and the Clerk to your Committee, Les Saunders, Cabinet Office European Secretariat and Grahame Dovey, DTI EU co-ordinator.

Once again, please accept my apologies, and my personal assurance that no discourtesy was intended to you or the Committee.

18 December 2001

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