Laser Pens: 15th March 2016

Oliver Dowden (Hertsmere) (Con)
11. What progress his Department is making on regulating the sale of laser pens. [904098]

The Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise (Anna Soubry)
It was a great pleasure to meet my hon. Friend yesterday to discuss his campaign, which I completely and fully support. We had already begun to look at this very important problem to see whether we need to change the legislation. As a result of the meeting, as my hon. Friend knows, I have undertaken to contact trading standards officers, and the primary authority in particular. We need to look at what is in effect the illegal sale of these pens to children. Laser pens have a role but should be bought by those who intend to use them for perfectly proper purposes. The idea of selling them to children seems perverse. We are doing other things, including looking at how we can change some of the EU directives and regulations.

Oliver Dowden
As the Minister knows, I told her about the case of a seven-year-old boy in my constituency who was almost blinded last year by a laser pen he had purchased at a Christmas fair. The problem is that laser pens are very dangerous but are being marketed to children as toys. Will the Minister further update the House on what the Government are doing to stop this form of marketing?

Anna Soubry
I cannot see how that can possibly be legal—actually, I am of the view that it must be illegal—which is why we are contacting trading standards officers and also, of course, the police. I know that my hon. Friend has already contacted his local trading standards officers, who in turn have contacted the police, and an investigation is taking place. As a result, I am confident that the message will be put out so that we can stop the import of laser pens, which is another reason I want to work with the European Union. I cannot see how on earth it can be right that it is legal to sell these pens as toys, because they are clearly not.