Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers - Heating Oils Additive.


asked the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism if an investigation by his Department has taken place to determine the reason regualtions on heating oils have not been adhered to by the oil companies in view of the fact that additive IS 251 had obviously not been added in many cases and as a result a number of household central heating systems froze during the recent cold spell.

As I was unaware — up to recently — of any complaints of waxing of heating oil this winter, no arrangements were made by my Department to undertake an investigation along the lines suggested by the Deputy.

Irish Standard 251 is a voluntary standard and there is no legal obligation on companies to supply oil to that standard. There is no avenue open to me under existing standards legislation to require oil companies to supply oil to the standard.

Would the Minister consider that it would be appropriate to set a standard in view of the problems that have arisen in certain household central heating systems during the recent cold spell and also during previous winters?

In relation to a voluntary standard anyone who sells a product claiming that it complies with a certain standard when it does not do so is committing an offence. If a person sells a product without claiming that it applies to a certain standard he is not committing an offence. It is up to the buyer to ask if the product complies with the standard. If he or she is told it does, but it does not, that is an offence.

In answer to the Deputy's question, the position is that the present legislation only allows the making of mandatory standards, that is where you cannot sell the oil unless it complies with the standard and that is where it is considered that the safety of persons is at risk.

Would the Minister not consider that it should be Government policy to protect the interests of the consumer and to protect the general public by setting a mandatory standard in this area? How many householders will ask the oil man if the company voluntarily or otherwise——

That is an argument.

It is not. I am asking a question.

In view of the limited resources available it is best to concentrate our strict enforcement in respect of goods which represent an actual danger to the physical wellbeing of people. Other matters are better left to the vigilance of the consumer and the enforcement in respect of compliance with voluntary standards, if they are stated to be complied with by the seller.