Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments First Report


Memorandum by the Department of Trade and Industry


    New Regulation 3A(5) (inserted by regulation 2(b)) provides that the prohibition imposed by paragraph (2) on the supply of certain harmful liquids does not apply to the supply of paraffin to which a colouring agent has been added solely in order to distinguish it for safety reasons and which is intended for any use other than as a fuel in decorative lamps. What provision in the relevant Directive authorises this provision?

  1. The Regulations have been made under s.11 Consumer Protection Act 1987 to ensure that the goods to which they apply are safe. Moreover, it is the Department's view that the Directive should be construed by reference to its overriding purpose, which is to provide for consumer safety. Accordingly, by making provision for the exemption of paraffin to make certain that consumers continue to be able to distinguish it from other fuels, the Regulations are both consistent with the overriding purpose of Directive 97/64 and fall within the scope of the domestic enabling legislation.

25 October 1999

Further Memorandum by the Department of Trade and Industry


  1. The Committee by a letter from its Clerk dated 3 November 1999 has requested a memorandum on the following point:

  Given the Directive's mandatory prohibition on adding colouring agents to substances and preparations, such as paraffin, which can be used as fuel in decorative lamps, explain how the Department justify permitting (or requiring) the addition of colouring agents to paraffin in order to permit it to be distinguished from other products so long as it is not intended for use as fuel in decorative lamps.

  2. There is no existing requirement in UK law as regards the addition of colouring agents to paraffin, the requirement for taxation purposes having ended in 1982. The colouring agent was retained as the result of a voluntary arrangement adopted by industry for the purposes of consumer safety. First, to ensure that when paraffin is stored in an unmarked container it will not be confused with another substance which may be ingested. Secondly, so that it is possible to distinguish paraffin from lower grade oils, such as kerosene, which it would be unsafe to use in heating appliances. Research conducted by the Department has shown that removal of the colouring agent from paraffin intended for use in heating appliances would cause a significantly greater risk to the safety of consumers than its retention.

  3. Given that the purpose of the Directive is consumer safety, the Department does not consider that it can have been intended to have that result, and consequently it should not be interpreted in a manner which produces that result.

8 November 1999

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