Home Accidents (Electrical Faults)

Oral Answers to Questions — Prices and Consumer Protection – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th March 1976.

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Photo of Mr Gwilym Roberts Mr Gwilym Roberts , Cannock 12:00 am, 8th March 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what figures are available for the number of home accidents arising from electrical faults; and if she will consult the electricity consultative councils with the aim of reducing these accident figures.

The Minister of State, Department of Prices and Consumer Protection (Mr. Alan Williams):

The only figures available are those relating to fires in dwellings or to deaths from electrocution arising from electrical equipment or installations which I gave in answer to a Question from the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Normanton) on 15th December 1975.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1975, which come into force this year, will help to prevent home accidents by prohibiting the sale of unsafe electrical equipment. I shall be pleased to consider views which the electricity consultative councils may express at any time on electrical safety matters, including these Regulations.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Roberts Mr Gwilym Roberts , Cannock

Is the Minister aware that some of the electricity consultative councils have already expressed concern about the effect of VAT on domestic repairs because it tends to push up prices and so persuades people to carry out their own repairs? The same applies in a case to which I drew his attention recently when there was a high charge for disconnecting a piece of electrical equipment. Would he consult the electricity boards to see whether there can be some reduction in these prices? Could not that—

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. The hon. Gentleman has asked two questions already.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Roberts Mr Gwilym Roberts , Cannock

Could not that lead to a further reduction in accidents?

Mr. Alan Williams:

I have asked the nationalised industries consultative councils, ROSPA and the British Standards Institute's consumer advisory body whether they can provide any information to support my hon. Friend's suggestion. As yet, not a word of evidence has been forthcoming. I have looked at the details of the individual case that my hon. Friend sent to me and I think that in all the circumstances the board behaved quite reasonably in this instance.

Photo of Mr Julian Ridsdale Mr Julian Ridsdale , Harwich

Will the Minister consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because clearly the 25 per cent. VAT rate is absurd for services of this kind?

Mr. Alan Williams:

In correspondence with hon. Members we have said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is prepared to look at any evidence that comes forward. For that reason I have asked those concerned with safety to let me have any evidence that they have.

Mr. Alan Williams:

I remind the hon. Lady that it was a Conservative Administration which first taxed the servicing of this equipment.