Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Household Electrical Appliances.


asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is satisfied that the household electrical appliances offered for sale in this country are of satisfactory standard from the safety point of view; and, if not, the action he proposes to take to ensure that purchasers of domestic electrical appliances are not exposed to risk or injury.

Household electrical appliances come within the scope of regulations made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in 1975, as amended in 1976, which require that electrical equipment coming on the market must be safe. I have no information to suggest that appliances on sale here do not meet the safety requirements prescribed by the regulations.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary know it is common knowledge that very poor electrical equipment is coming on the market and would he not consider having the IIRS report on this? This was even indicated in a recent Press report.

The question addressed to me relates to safety and not to the general issue of quality. If he has any specific complaints in relation to safety. I will have them inquired into in the context of the regulations to which I have referred.

In that recent report to which I referred safety was mentioned.

If the Deputy, or any body who wishes to publish a report on the matter, want to have the matter taken up they should give us specific complaints.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware of any such ocplaints?

I have no record of any specific complaints.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary and his Department satisfy themselves on these matters? In other words, what is the mechanism in his Department by which they satisfy themselves as to the working of any electrical appliances on sale?

Basically, the question is one to be decided by experts and it is a matter as to whether the particular appliance complies with safety standards. There are certain features which are the subject of harmonised standards at EEC level and there are appliances which are the subject of international standards, which have not got the EEC stamp of approval, and then there is the general question of safety which can be assessed by the IIRS. All these criteria can be borne in mind in assessing the safety of particular appliances and I am satisfied that adequate machinery exists to ensure safety and the machinery available can be called into operation if and when specific complaints are made.

I am not disputing the regulations. What I am asking is in what manner in the purely physical sense is his Department satisfied the regulations are, in fact, adhered to? Who does the Work?

We cannot have repetition.

We have a testing body, the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards, and also an examining body, the Electric Safety Reference Body, and these bodies are on hand to assess individual appliances in the context of the standards to which I have referred.

Is it before or after the event?

On receipt of a complaint.

I have allowed a number of supplementary questions. Deputy Leonard may ask one final brief supplementary question.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that in what was supposed to be sponsored by the European Economic Community 10,000 housewives were questioned by the European group of consumer unions and it was found that 16 per cent of electoral goods were defective?

Is that from the point of view of safety?

Yes, and the general standards.

I have no information on the subject referred to by the Deputy but I can tell him that inspectors carry out periodical checks to ensure compulsory standards are complied with and the electrical technical council also keep a watch and if the people who published the report to which the Deputy refers have specific appliances in mind they should make the details known to the proper authorities.