43.Flame retardants have been in widespread use in consumer and industrial products since the 1970s. They are chemicals in consumer products to slow or prevent them catching fire. They are commonly found in furnishings, electronics, building and construction materials and transportation products. They can be chemically incorporated into products or added to materials after production. Legislation has mandated their use in furniture since 1975 in the US and 1988 in the UK. In 2017, the Chief Medical Officer said of flame retardants, there is ‘no known causative linkage between exposure from the environment and adverse health outcomes;’ however they are being phased out due to their persistence. The most commonly used flame retardant is aluminium hydroxide which is generally considered to be safe. There are many classes of flame retardants with different chemical structures and properties including brominated, chlorinated and organophosphorus. Brominated flame retardants are generally considered the most effective as relatively small amounts are required to achieve high protection.
44.Flame retardants have been detected in air, soil, water, food, wildlife and humans. They are present in homes and offices via dust and on surfaces including windows, floors and carpets. Exposure occurs when additive flame retardants leach from goods into the air, dust and surfaces. Breast Cancer UK suggests the US and UK have the highest levels of flame retardants in human body fluids. Legacy polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are in breast milk in the highest concentrations in women in the US and UK. A comparative study of dust in the UK and Norway found that UK levels of PBDEs were 20–30 times higher and levels of organophosphorus flame retardants were 11 times higher. There is a growing body of research that some flame retardants pose a threat to human health and the environment. The Cancer Prevention and Education Society noted the effects include ‘cancer, neurotoxicity, developmental, behavioural, endocrine, metabolic, reproductive, developmental and allergy.’
45.As flame retardants are found to be persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic to humans and wildlife, they have been classed as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and banned under the Stockholm Convention. They are also restricted under REACH as SVHCs. This classification is carried out on a substance by substance basis. Groups of similar flame retardants have not been considered together. Historically, penta-, octa- and decabromodiphenyl ether (PBDEs), tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBP A) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) were most widely used. Each is persistent and bio-accumulate in humans and wildlife and are now subject to restriction. Deca-BDE was widely used as a flame retardant in UK furniture. It was classed as an SVHC in 2012 and banned in March 2019. Regrettable substitution occurred as it was replaced with flame retardants which are now being considered for restriction (TCEP, TCPP, TDCP). It also poses waste disposal challenges as it is present in many peoples’ sofas and mattresses.
46.Internationally, further restrictions are being placed on flame retardants. In 2013, California revised its domestic furniture standard, Technical Bulletin 117, which reduced the use of flame retardants in upholstered furniture and children’s products. In 2018, it also banned the sale of furniture, baby products and mattresses containing flame retardants and repealed its open flame test standard for upholstered furniture in public spaces. Several other states have adopted similar measures. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering a ban on additive organohalogenated flame retardants in children’s products, mattresses, electronic casings and furniture. The EU has also proposed a ban on halogenated flame retardants in electronic displays under the Eco-design Directive. This is due to be implemented from April 2021. In addition, it has proposed a restriction on the sale of children’s products and upholstered furniture with polyurethane foams containing the flame retardants TCEP, TCPP and TDCP. ECHA is due to publish its decision in July 2019.
47.The UK and Ireland are the only EU member states to have additional national fire safety controls on domestic, upholstered furniture. This requires products to pass ignition (match) and flammability (smoulder) tests before being placed on the market. The use of flame retardants is generally the primary method of compliance. In the UK, deaths from fire increased in the 1960s and 1970s due to the introduction of synthetic polymers. Polyurethane foam replaced natural materials such as horsehair and cotton causing increased ignitability and fire growth, dense smoke and greater smoke toxicity. A major fire in a Manchester department store in 1979, which killed ten people and injured six more, contributed to calls for limits on flammability. In 1988, the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations [hereafter ‘the Regulations’] covering domestic furniture were introduced. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers the fire safety of furniture and furnishings in non-domestic environments.
48.UK fire deaths stabilised in the mid-1980s at 12–13 deaths per million. This rate declined following the introduction of the Regulations to 10 deaths per million in the mid-1990s. The rate has continued to decline in recent years. In 2017/18 there were 395 fatalities in Great Britain, a rate of 6 deaths per million. A comparison of deaths from fire in the UK and New Zealand since the 1970s shows a similar rate of decline, despite New Zealand having no furniture flammability regulations. Declines have also been measured in European countries which do not use a match test, only a smoulder test.
Box 1: Fire deaths per 100 000 population in the UK and in New Zealand
49.There is disagreement about the contribution of flame retardants to this reduction. Reports commissioned by the flame-retardant industry and the Government attributed 50 percent of this reduction to flame retardants and 50 percent to increased use of smoke alarms. A 2009 report by consultancy firm Greenstreet Berman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) provided an estimate for the reduction attributable to the Regulations: 1,065 fires prevented, 54 lives saved and 780 casualties avoided per year. The Centre for Fire and Hazard Science, based at the University of Central Lancashire, is critical of this analysis suggesting that it does not account for changes in cigarette smoking habits, the move away from exposed flame heating sources and improvements in living standards.
50.In an analysis of the smoke toxicity of UK furniture, the Centre for Fire and Hazard Science found that 12.6 percent of fires occur in bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms, where most upholstered furniture is located, accounting for 71.2 percent of fatalities. They found that since the 1990s, the majority of deaths and injuries from fires are caused by the inhalation of toxic smoke. Its study concluded that ‘while we are unlikely to ever have robust data showing how effective flame retardants are in suppressing ignition, it is evident that, once ignition occurs, the presence of flame retardants has little effect on the fire growth rate, but does have an adverse effect on the smoke toxicity.’ Professor Anna Stec of the University of Central Lancashire told us that the toxicity of the fire is dependent on the type of material burning and the scale of the fire. She explained how flame retardants affect this toxicity:
Typically, what we have learned with the use of fire retardants is that manufacturers somehow find a way to meet furniture regulations by using fire retardants. What is happening is that fire retardants generally, on a positive note, are supposed to suppress ignition time, and slow fire growth. But if we are adding fire retardant to, let’s say, fabric, more combustible material can be added at the same time, which will eventually, together with the fire retardant, quench in the gas phase. It will stop reactions in the gas phase. Typically, if you have clean flame it is getting you cleaner products. If you stop those reactions, you are going to generate more incomplete combustion products, which would increase toxicity and concentrations of other toxicants, which will overall create a more hazardous situation.
… Gas-phase flame retardants. Generally, we found that they increase acute toxicants—carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide—in a gas phase, as well as chronic toxicants, which would also have an effect in an environment where they are persistent … Generally, we have classified them as chlorinated, brominated ones and organophosphorus flame retardants.
Box 2: Causes of UK fire deaths from 1955 to 2013
51.Jonathan Hindle of the British Furniture Confederation maintained the Regulations provide ‘a number of front end benefits’ by preventing early ignition and providing time for people to escape. When questioned about the role of toxic smoke inhalation, he said ‘ … there is a palpable lack of research to show exactly where all the deaths are coming from. Often they are in catastrophic fires and it is a cumulative effect of many things impacting on that and it is very difficult to pin it back on one particular item.’ Kasturirangan Kannah of flame-retardant producer Lanxess, referenced escape time when asked about the toxicity of smoke.
52.The purpose of the Regulations is ‘to ensure that upholstery components and composites used for furniture supplied in the UK meet specified ignition resistance levels.’ They are UK-wide, cover flammability testing and labelling requirements and apply to all suppliers of materials in the supply chain through final product. They also apply to hire and second-hand furniture suppliers. Products within scope of the Regulations include furniture intended for private use, children’s and nursery furniture, beds, mattresses and garden furniture. There are four main flammability tests contained within the Regulations. The ‘match’ and ‘cigarette’ tests cover fabrics while two further tests cover foam and non-foam materials. The Regulations do not specify the use of flame retardants, but their use is generally accepted as the most cost-effective method of achieving compliance. Trading Standards is the enforcement body under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. We heard evidence that the test requirements under the Regulations push the use of different flame retardants and make it more difficult for EU based companies to put furniture on the UK market.
The Match Test
The current match test requires cover fabrics to be tested over highly flammable, polyurethane (plastic) foam which is banned in final products due to its flammability. Flame-retardant chemicals are applied via backcoating. This is completely different to the equivalent EU test (EN 1021–2) which requires the finished product to be assessed, as found in final products. Further, as the test has not been revised since 1988, it does not consider modern furniture construction techniques, does not account for the use of protective materials underneath the cover, it is unclear at what stage a component or piece of furniture must comply. This therefore creates doubts over the ability to prosecute under the current Regulations.
The 2014 consultation proposed amending the match test to test filling materials over combustion modified foam (the foam that is used in final furniture products and which would reduce the use of flame retardants), removing the cigarette test requirement for any fabrics which passed the match test and invisible linings, regulating lining fabrics and testing more parts of furniture currently unregulated materials within 40mm of the surface of the product. However, the unamended test remains in place.
53.The Regulations have not been significantly revised in over thirty years. A review began in 2009. In 2010, the Government’s Red Tape Challenge identified two issues with the Regulations and concluded Government intervention was required.
Firstly, in order to meet the requirements, manufacturers use significant quantities of potentially harmful Flame Retardant chemicals (FRs) to make covers fire resistant to the required standard. Secondly, weaknesses in the current testing regime mean that the testing which takes place (particularly the ‘match test’) may not actually be delivering the desired outcome (i.e. match-resistant furniture) for finished products. Government intervention is required to resolve these two issues to ensure the regulations maintain fire resistance standards for all products.
In the same year, a study commissioned by Defra found ‘there is significant scope to move towards design-based and inherent FR [flame retardant] material approaches which can avoid the use of chemical FR [flame retardant] technologies.’
54.In 2011, a report for the European Commission considered the use of flame retardants in consumer products. While acknowledging the difficulties in comparing varied statistical data from different countries, it concluded:
… in some instances, drops in the number of fire deaths coincide with the introduction of non-flammability requirements for domestic consumer products. In other instances, however, there is no change in the ongoing trend of fire deaths. This suggests that these numbers do not reflect the stringency of non-flammability requirements, respectively that non-flammability requirements do not visibly decrease the number of fire deaths.
At the same time, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupation Health & Safety (ANSES) began a four-year appraisal of the effectiveness of flame retardant treated furniture, as available on the UK market. Its findings, published in September 2015, said there was insufficient data ‘to conclude that fire-retardant treatment of upholstered furniture significantly contributes to reducing the frequency and severity of domestic fires. It therefore seems impossible to determine the possible safety benefit of using flame retardants in upholstered furniture.’ It recommended that other fire safety measures be adopted over the use of flame retardants. While this appraisal was ongoing, BIS was engaged in an 18-month informal consultation with stakeholders to review the Regulations. This work led to a consultation on the Regulations in August 2014.
55.The consultation proposed reform of the match test. The technical paper accompanying the consultation explained:
It is possible to demonstrate in full scale tests that the Regulations are ineffective. Consumers are, in many instances, being led to believe that the furniture they buy is match resistant when it is not so in its final form (because it has been sprayed by persistent and flammable materials or has covers which behave favourably in test but not in the finished item or has components near the surface which are flammable).
The consultation estimated that the changes would reduce flame retardant use by up to 50 percent, save industry up to £50m per year and would facilitate the transition to greener furniture in the UK. Implementation of the proposals was planned for April 2015.
56.In outlining the need for change, BIS cited growing evidence that flame retardants are harmful to health and the environment, moves by the EU to classify brominated flame retardants as SVHCs, the rising price of chemicals to meet the testing requirements, changes to the furniture flammability standard in California, growing concern amongst UK consumers, future EU legislation on the disposal of furniture containing hazardous substances and the Regulations posing a barrier to trade on the EU market. The barrier to trade was of particular concern. We received evidence that during its review of the Regulations, BIS feared ‘legal action from the European Commission for violating single market rules.’ In 2016, the European Furniture Industries Confederation lodged a complaint with the European Commission about the Regulations. The Commission has not yet responded to the complaint.
57.The 2014 consultation received 113 responses, with the highest proportion coming from manufacturing and retail sectors. BIS published its official response to the consultation within six months, in March 2015. The response included a summary of stakeholders’ replies but not their full submissions. The full responses were only published following a Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations request by CHEM Trust in September 2015. 45 percent of respondents believed the proposals would result in no cost savings or would increase costs. Some respondents felt that the changes could result in an increase in the use of flame-retardant chemicals. Only 18 responses believed the proposals would make UK furniture greener and only 16 responses felt the proposals would make UK furniture more fire safe. Terry Edge, a former civil servant involved in the review of the Regulations, said of the consultation responses:
They did not give any reasoning or evidence for why they disagreed. There were 113 responses. Over half of those were positive, particularly from individual fire services, which were universally pleased that furniture should be fire safer, and from the enforcement authority, but from the chemical industry and its supporters all they really said to the questions we asked was, “No”.
BIS decided not to implement the measures it proposed in the 2014 consultation. The Department announced it would conduct a full review of the Regulations. It identified required work as engaging with stakeholders to develop a consensus on the changes required and working with the British Standards Institute (BSI) on the proposed new match test.
58.The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS - the Department was renamed in July 2016), published a second consultation in September 2016 which proposed replacing the Regulations with an updated version. Unlike the earlier consultation, the Government’s response remains unpublished nearly three years later. It stated the proposals were developed following two stakeholder workshops in summer 2015 and feedback from the British Standards Institute as proposed in 2014. In evidence, Terry Edge contested that work with the British Standards Institute was carried out. He also suggested that the consultation was instigated ‘under pressure from the Sunday Times reporting on my whistle-blowing case.’
59.The consultation restated the Department’s ambition to revise testing methods to better reflect the construction of modern furniture and to enable manufacturers to reduce the use of flame retardants. The proposals covered scope, testing and, traceability and enforcement including:
60.The Chemical Industries Association told us it understood there were 125 responses to the 2016 consultation. As of July 2019, BEIS had not published either its response to the 2016 consultation or the stakeholder submissions, a delay of nearly three years. The Government’s guidance on consultations advises that ‘government responses to consultations should be published in a timely fashion.’ A timeframe of 12 weeks is recommended or the Department should ‘provide an explanation why this is not possible.’ In evidence to the inquiry, the Government cited the complexity of the area as the reason for delay.
Plans to revise the current Regulations have been ongoing for some time. It is a complex area that requires careful balancing of evidence and close engagement with diverse stakeholders to find consensus on the right way forward. Specifically, in relation to furniture, there is a need to manage the risks of both fire and chemical hazards from the flame-retardant chemicals and their potential health and environmental impacts.
Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, told us the Government’s response would be produced ‘imminently’ and ‘within this month [June].’
61.It is evident that there is no consensus about the review of the Regulations. Evidence to the inquiry illustrated the range of stakeholder perspectives. FRETWORK, the Flame Retardant Textiles Network, were supportive of the Regulations saying ‘the FFR [Furniture and Furnishings Regulations] are fit for purpose in addressing a very real consumer safety concern.’ The Chemicals Industries Association told us that ‘any updating of the FFRs should not compromise fire safety.’ Lanxess agreed with this view saying that ‘anything at all is fine as long as you do not jeopardise fire safety. That is our single number one concern.’ It defended the use of flame retardants in products. Citing the example of deca-BDE, a brominated flame retardant classed as a SVHC, it said ‘this does not imply that its prior use in furniture is causing harm to people.’ The Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) said the industry is not opposed to change but wants to ensure it ‘is going in the right direction’ and that the industry can meet new requirements in a consistent way. Opponents of the current Regulations said they ‘do not create a strong enough impetus to change furniture design and construction to design out both flammability and the use of flame retardants.’ Therese Lilliebladh of IKEA told us the company was in favour of a change saying ‘we believe it is possible to have both fire safe products, but also that are free from harmful chemicals.’ Gemma Brierley of Kingfisher also expressed support for a proposal that reduces overall use of flame retardants. Silentnight Group said it wants ‘to be in a position to supply products which don’t compromise fire safety but at the same time don’t contain materials known to release harmful substances into consumer’s homes or the environment when they become post-consumer waste.’
62.In evidence the industry was unable to explain why fire death rates in the UK are similar to New Zealand, with no flammability regulations on domestic furniture, and other EU countries. Lanxess contested the 2014 consultation figure of £50 million in industry savings saying the actual figure was likely to be between £1.5 million and £3.75 million. Jonathan Hindle identified cost as a significant factor in moving away from flame-retardant treated products. He said the use of natural materials as alternatives to flame retardants was likely to cost an additional 25 percent. This was contested in written evidence from mattress manufacturer Cottonsafe who said the additional cost to move to natural materials in a double or king-sized mattress would be £19.
63.Kasturirangan Kannah of Lanxess questioned if a resolution could be found through public consultation saying ‘ … when you come to complex areas like fire safety testing methods, the match test, the smoulder test, it cannot be done by public consultation. You could have another half a dozen and unfortunately you will not come up with a solid outcome.’ He advocated that the relevant British Standards committee be tasked with finding a solution and that this work could be completed within three years. FIRA also supported British Standards completing further work on the test. According to the 2016 consultation and evidence from the Minister, British Standards have facilitated work and been involved in the stakeholder engagement throughout the review process. The Minister intimated that the British Standards Institute will be tasked with devising a solution:
I am minded to develop the outcome-based approach based on essential safety requirements … it will mean that potentially there will be a range of requirements that are devised by the British Standards Institution.
64.The Furniture and Furnishings Regulations have been under review by BEIS and its predecessor department for ten years. In that time, a growing body of research has linked some flame retardants to adverse human and environmental health outcomes. Some of the most commonly used flame retardants in consumer products, such as deca-BDE, have been classed as persistent organic pollutants and substances of very high concern. Some have been banned and regrettable substitutions have occurred. Internationally, restrictions are increasingly being placed on their use in furniture, mattresses, children’s products and electronics. In addition, evidence has emerged that flame-retardant chemicals increase the toxicity of smoke in domestic fires, which calls into question their overall benefit. We understand the challenges the Government has faced in finding consensus with varied and opposing industry views and share its belief that there is a need for both fire and chemical safety; however, that does not justify continued ministerial paralysis while the public remain exposed to harmful chemicals in their homes. Inaction has allowed unnecessary and potentially toxic chemicals to continue to enter homes for over a decade. Chemicals which, while purporting to protect the public from fire, cause more toxic smoke and increases the production of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.
65.The UK and Ireland stand alone in requiring these chemicals in domestic upholstered furniture with a hotly contested debate about whether they reduce fire deaths. We strongly disagree with the industry view that a resolution cannot be found by public consultation. We are concerned that the Government’s intention to involve the British Standards Institute in devising a new test, at the behest of industry, will be used by industry to frustrate change and further delay reform. The Government should bring the UK into line with the rest of the EU and develop a new flammability test standard based on the EU’s smoulder test and California’s standard Technical Bulletin 117–2013. This should be delivered with a clear legislative timetable for the adoption of revised regulations. In the meantime, industry must acknowledge this practice is no longer sustainable and begin the process of innovating and adopting alternatives to chemical flame retardants.
66.There is action the Government can take immediately to reduce public exposure. We heard that in-utero and early childhood are the most sensitive times for exposure to chemicals. As proposed in the 2016 consultation, we call on the Government to remove children’s products from scope of the 1988 Regulations without further delay. The Government should also introduce a new permanent label for all upholstered furniture products containing flame retardants. This should clearly state if the product has been treated with chemical flame retardants and list all chemicals used, including those below the substance of very high concern threshold. The label should also direct consumers to an online platform where they can view independent scientific advice on the relative toxicity of the chemicals listed.
67.The presence of harmful chemicals in furniture, and their classification as hazardous waste at disposal, have been highlighted as particular problems. In addition to the measures proposed to reduce the use of chemical flame retardants, the Government should take measures to restrict regrettable substitutions through banning the use of groups of chemicals with similar properties. In addition, the use of substances of very high concern, at any threshold, should be banned in line with the precautionary principle. The Health and Safety Executive has been aware of the heightened occupational risk to sinonasal cancer from furniture making since 2012. It needs to assess the dangers posed to furniture workers from the handling and use of foams and flame retardants including when using personal protective equipment.
68.It is completely unacceptable that BEIS has not responded to a public consultation for nearly three years. BEIS has provided no reason for this delay beyond stating that the issue is complex and stakeholder consensus has not been achieved. We recommend the Cabinet Office strengthen its guidance on consultations. This should apply formal time limits to departmental responses to consultations with penalties for departments who do not comply. The expected response date should be published on the consultation webpage. If it is not possible to publish a full response, there should be a binding requirement to publish an update on the consultation webpage listing the reason for the delay, outlining what work is ongoing and giving a revised publication date. Stakeholder responses to consultations should be published as standard with sensitive or personal information redacted. The departmental Permanent Secretary and the Secretary of State should personally review any consultations which suffer a delay of more than six months in response and provide an account to parliament of the action they propose.
69.Terry Edge was the lead civil servant on the review of the Regulations. In evidence to the inquiry, he alleged inappropriate behaviour by individuals working in the fire sector and officials at BIS during the review of the Regulations. His evidence, and that of journalist Gareth Simkins, set out examples of obstruction and delay within BIS:
70.Terry Edge retired from BIS in March 2016. This was following two formal complaints to BIS about the review of the Regulations and the conduct of certain colleagues. He initially launched a Civil Service Code complaint against his managers. He alleged that the then Minister was wrongly informed of his complaint that certain BEIS officials had misled Ministers. When this complaint was not resolved to his satisfaction, he initiated a complaint under BIS’s internal whistleblowing policy. This complaint was dealt with by the Government Internal Audit Agency. Terry Edge and Gareth Simkins alleged that this complaint was mis-handled and that a final report was only issued in August 2016 following an intervention by the Sunday Times. Gareth Simkins alleges that the final report was written by one of the BIS officials Mr Edge had made a complaint against.
71.In response to questioning about the allegations, BEIS provided no information about the actions taken to investigate individual employees and told us:
A complaint was made in 2015 about a potential breach of the Civil Service Code in relation to the intended approach to the Review and information that had been provided to the then-Minister.
An internal investigation, and then a further internal review of both the Civil Service Code complaint and the policy process/approach, concluded that there had been no breach of the Civil Service Code.
Further complaints were raised and were investigated externally by the Government lnternal Audit Agency (GIAA) under the Department’s Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure. No evidence was found to substantiate the allegations.
Playing with Fire
In 2012, the Chicago Tribune ran a Pulitzer Prize nominated investigative reporting series into flame retardants. The series uncovered evidence of misleading and deceptive activity by the chemicals industry in lobbying against the restriction of flame retardants. This included paying witnesses to advocate positions in favour of flame retardants at state legislature hearings, promoting flawed scientific studies and the use of advocacy groups funded by the industry to promote the use of flame retardants.
72.In evidence, Terry Edge further alleged that ‘there is a long history of fire sector/medical officials accepting large sums of money from the FR [flame retardant] industry to support its products’ and that this extends to named individuals in the UK fire sector. A 2017 BBC Newsnight report identified former Manchester firefighter Bob Graham’s role in the Alliance for Consumer Fire Safety in Europe. The Alliance advocated the use of flame retardants in some products and for the EU to adopt the UK’s flammability standards. In oral evidence, Terry Edge named other individuals he believed were involved in blocking changes to the Regulations and said that lobbying activity in the UK ‘is a bit more subtle’ than in the US. He did not have evidence of direct lobbying of his colleagues and was questioned about whether this action was normal activity in a consulting capacity:
Yes, but as Bob Graham did in his time, to lobby heavily in Europe for flame retardants in furniture, so I am not quite sure of the consultant role there.
When asked if he had any evidence that Mr Graham lobbied Mr Edge’s colleagues at BEIS, he said:
Not directly, no. I will not mention names but there is an open secret of several people currently in the fire sector who are funded by the flame retardant industry and their actions certainly suggest that too. These are currently-serving fire sector people … It is not so much a job. I think it is more intentionally, deliberately blocking in the case of two or three of these people who are prominent in blocking changes to the furniture regulations and that is all on record. I have recorded evidence of that. They would say, “Well, we just believe these changes would not result in better fire safety” but the fact is they have blocked those changes and these were the same people, for example, who suggested more work needed to be done but have never followed up on that work and have never explained why it has not been done and what have they done about the fact that, with that work not being done, the current match test is unsafe.
73.In follow-up written evidence one of the individuals named denied the allegations made against him saying ‘I was not given ‘a large sum of money’ (or, indeed, any sum of money) by the Flame Retardant Industry at the time of changes to the match test nor at any other time.’ Kasturirangan Kannah also denied a covert lobbying campaign took place in the UK.
I completely disagree that it was covert or any other kind of lobbying. We had concerns with the regulations, we went to our local MP in Trafford Park in Manchester and expressed our concerns. I mentioned the impact assessment and mentioned the grossly overstated figures there. I talked about the fact that brominated flame retardants had been described in the whole, in the round, as though they were all one cohesive whole. We objected to that.
74.Lanxess acknowledged that its predecessor company, Chemtura, funded the Fire Safety Platform and current European Fire Safety Alliance but said ‘we completely refute any suggestion of corruption, totally.’ The current Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, also denied there was lobbying activity within BEIS:
… in the time that I have been the Minister—10 months—I have not spoken to any corporate around this particular work, which has firmly fallen under me.
75.We agree with evidence provided by Terry Edge that inaction and obstruction within BEIS has contributed to the delay in reforming the Regulations. It is clear that opposition from some in the furniture and flame-retardant industries, and protection of their market share, also contributed to the delay and the inability to achieve a consensus for reform. The evidence indicates that there are strongly held feelings regarding reform on all sides of the argument. We take Terry Edge’s allegations against individuals within BEIS and the industry very seriously; however, we have been unable to substantiate these allegations. We recommend that the Minister makes a decision and publishes the consultation responses before the change of government that will take place on 24 July. Failure to do so will add to the view that officials are deliberately delaying the process and waiting for a new minister so the process can start again.
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198 BIS, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988: Consultation on proposed amendments to Schedule 5 – the Match Test – Part 1 and Schedule 4 – the Cigarette Test (August 2014), p 26.
199 BIS, (October 2014), p 15.
200 BIS, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988: Consultation on proposed amendments to Schedule 5 – the Match Test – Part 1 and Schedule 4 – the Cigarette Test (August 2014), p. 5.
201 BIS, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988: Consultation on proposed amendments to Schedule 5 – the Match Test – Part 1 and Schedule 4 – the Cigarette Test (August 2014), p. 16.
202 BIS, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988: Consultation on proposed amendments to Schedule 5 – the Match Test – Part 1 and Schedule 4 – the Cigarette Test (August 2014), pp 11–12.
203 Mr Gareth Simkins (), p 10.
204 Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture in Europe, [accessed 18 March 2019].
205 BIS, (March 2015), p 5.
206 Mr Terry Edge (), p 4; Confirmed in correspondence by Dr Michael Warhurst, Executive Director of CHEM Trust.
207 BIS, (March 2015), pp 5–7.
209 BIS, (March 2015), p 8.
210 BEIS, Consultation on updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (September 2016), p 3.
211 BEIS, Consultation on updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (September 2016), pp 9; 14.
213 Mr Terry Edge (), pp 4–5.
214 BEIS, Consultation on updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (September 2016), p 4.
215 BEIS, Consultation on updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (September 2016), p 13.
216 BEIS, Consultation on updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (September 2016), p 16.
217 BEIS, Consultation on updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (September 2016), pp 23–24.
218 BEIS, Consultation on updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations (September 2016), p 24.
219 Chemical Industries Association (), p 3.
220 Cabinet Office, (2018), p 2.
221 Cabinet Office, (2018), p 2.
222 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (), p 11.
225 FRETWORK - The Flame Retardant Textiles Network Ltd (), p 4.
226 Chemical Industries Association (), p 4.
228 Lanxess Solutions UK Ltd (), p 3.
230 CHEM Trust (), p 8.
233 Silentnight Group Limited (), p 1.
237 Cottonsafe (), p 1.
244 HSE, (2012), p iii.
245 Mr Terry Edge (), p 1.
246 Mr Gareth Simkins (), p 11.
247 Mr Gareth Simkins (), p 10.
248 Mr Terry Edge (), p 4.
249 Mr Terry Edge (), p 5.
250 Mr Gareth Simkins (), p 11.
251 Mr Gareth Simkins (), p 12.
252 Mr Gareth Simkins (), p 11.
253 Mr Gareth Simkins (), p 11.
258 Mr Terry Edge (), p 6.
263 Mr Michael Hagen (), p 1.
Published: 16 July 2019