The survival of the British Hallmarking Council

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BHC chairman Tom Murray on surviving the government review.

By Tom Murray, chairman, British Hallmarking Council

As Chairman of the British Hallmarking Council I am delighted to respond to the news from the Government that the Council is to be retained following the review of non Departmental Public Bodies.

This news was welcome, even though it was expected that the Government would recognise the continuing benefits provided by the work of the Council, as was the case three years ago following the publication of the Hampton Report.

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The Council is wholly funded by the Assay Offices without any contribution from the public purse. Its work is of a broadly technical nature, relating to the hallmarking regime in the UK for the testing and marking of precious metal items. The Council advises Government on hallmarking policy, and any need for legislative change, and also works with the Assay Offices and Trading Standards Departments concerning the enforcement of the law.

The Hampton review was aimed at relieving the burden of regulation on business, and as part of that process it was confirmed that the Council is not burdensome, and in fact its work is welcomed by the Assay Offices and the jewellery trade. That is because the role of the Council within the hallmarking regime is effective to strengthen the trade in the UK. Hallmarking provides reassurance to consumers which supports the stature of manufacturers and retailers, and helps sales.

A good example of the effect of hallmarking is provided by sales of palladium items. Palladium was brought within the hallmarking regime in 2009, and since then volumes of items sold have increased by up to three times, according to Assay Office reports.

The Council works closely with the National Measurement Office ( the Councils supervisory body) and understands from NMO that the present review, culminating in the Public Bodies Bill, might involve the enlargement of the role and work of the Council. This would provide additional reason for us to welcome the outcome of the Government review, and to look forward to our work in the future.

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