§ Mr. Robert Banks
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what ignition tests on polyurethane foam were carried out or arranged by his Department in preparation for the proposed Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations.
§ Mr. Butcher
Manufacterers of polyurethane foam, independently and in co-ordination under the British Rubber Manufacturers Association, have been involved in more or less continuous fire testing of their products. As a result, claims were made during 1987 about new combustion-modified types of foams and their resistance to BS 5852 ignition source 5.
One of these manufacturers also undertook work in 1987 on a possible weight loss test in connection with envisaged regulations.
Following a statement by my hon. Friend the then Minister for Consumer Affairs on 11 January 1988, at column 23–24, my Department requested that the industry should concentrate on a test to distinguish "combustion modified" foam from the standard foam and high resilience foam, which we proposed to ban. This work was then drawn together by a BSI technical committee which first met on 5 February. Agreement on the requirements for an ignition test to indentify combustion-modified foam was announced in a written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Mills) on 10 May, at column 69. In parallel with this, some confirmatory testing was incorporated into a study of the fire behaviour of the various foams arranged at the fire research station of the Department of the Environment. The results of this study are not yet available.