Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Electrical Installations.

25.

asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if he will remove the responsibility for inspecting electrical wiring from the persons who now carry it out, and if he will raise the standards for obtaining completion certificates.

26.

asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if he will make an order prohibiting the fitting of a switch for an immersion heater inside the hot press, as this is not in accordance with requirements and is unsafe, resulting in several fires.

I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to take Questions Nos. 25 and 26 together.

I regret that in the time available it is not possible to give a definitive reply to these two questions. I can assure the Deputy, however, that the matters raised therein are receiving close attention and that inquiries will be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible. Up to now I have assumed that responsibility for ensuring that houses have been properly wired would rest with those inspectors whose function it is to approve of the premises for the purposes of the Housing Acts. However, it appears that there are certain legal and practical difficulties which could arise if their functions were extended in this way. I am not satisfied that this argument is entirely convincing and the matter is still under discussion. The Deputy can be assured that any workable system which provides adequate protection to the public will be considered.

The Minister did not refer in his reply to Question No. 26. The principle which the question seeks to establish is that individuals who carry out electrical work should have their work certified by another body. Does this principle commend itself to the Minister? Will he accept it as a basic principle in view of the vital importance of electrical wiring in its effect on human life?

I accept the principle. The Deputy is aware that the ESB will only establish the connection; their operations start at the junction box. They work very closely with the Electro-Technical Council of Ireland who set down national rules. The ESB have been very helpful to them. It is on the basis of certain standards being met that the ESB will establish a connection.

Is the Minister aware that at present electrical wiring work is done by any contractor who need not have any electrical qualifications and that the overwhelming majority of such installations—perhaps 95 per cent—are never seen or inspected by any other body?

It is not necessary to make a speech.

There is an implicit danger to life and limb.

This whole matter is under review and various discussions are going on.

When will we get finality? People have died recently arising out of these situations. If I forward to the Minister names of housing estates where this practice is going on and in which there was recently a fire, will he take action to have remedial repairs carried out immediately?

If the Deputy sends me the details I will have the matter investigated.

That is not good enough. Will the Minister ensure that the situation is corrected?

I cannot take action until I have the matter examined.

In relation to Question No. 26, has the Minister received any information whether the placing of switches for immersion heaters inside hot presses is classified as a dangerous practice?

There is nothing on the file about this.

Does the Minister agree that it is in contravention of the regulations?

I have not the ETCI regulations.