asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the number of cases recently of fires and deaths caused by secondhand oil heaters, he will send a circular to local authorities drawing their attention again to their powers to prosecute those who sell secondhand oil heaters in the course of business.
One effect of amending Regulations made last June is that the Oil Heaters Regulations, 1962, now apply to all oil heaters offered for sale, irrespective of their date of manufacture. Local authorities were informed at that time that this provision had been introduced to facilitate enforcement of the law, especially in the case of secondhand heaters. I do not think a reminder is needed at present.
In view of the fact that the majority of accidents involving oil heaters appear to be caused by their lack of maintenance or improper use, such as using them for cooking, there is value in drawing the attention of local authorities to the kind of publicity campaign which the Borough of Lambeth has introduced recently. Would the right hon. Lady think again about sending a circular to remind local authorities of their powers in this respect?
If necessary, we shall do so. However, we have done this once, and there has been a considerable amount of publicity through the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the Fire Protection Association, the oil appliances manufacturers, local authorities and home safety committees. In a number of areas where there are large immigrant populations, advice has been issued in languages such as Urdu, Greek and Turkish, so that a great deal has been done and is being done.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that on three occasions recently there have been serious fires in my constituency, when kiddies have lost their lives, because these heaters have been knocked over? As there is a new device which automatically puts out the flame when the lamp or the fire is knocked over, will my right hon. Friend do something about seeing that it is recommended to be included on all new heaters that are manufactured?