Written Answers. - Prosecutions under Statutory Instrument.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

174 Mr. Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of prosecutions that have been initiated under Statutory Instrument No. 257 of 1991; when the last such prosecution was initiated; the reason this order is not being more effectively enforced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19140/00]

The Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs is responsible,inter alia, for enforcing Statutory Instrument No. 257 of 1991 (the Industrial Research and Standards (Section 44) (Petroleum Coke and Other Solid Fuels) Order, 1991. While that office has not been in a position to give details of the number of prosecutions initiated since the order was made, I understand that in 1994 a retailer was successfully prosecuted and convicted for a breach of the order. Also, at the beginning of this year, the ODCA started proceedings against a number of traders for breach of the order. These proceedings were dropped subsequently for reasons unrelated to legal difficulties in relation to the enforcement powers under the order.

Enforcement is also effected through the provision of information and advice. For example, in February this year, the Director of Consumer Affairs issued a press release warning consumers to be careful when buying petroleum coke and highlighting the requirements of the order.

An unintended result of the repeal of section 35 of the Restrictive Practices (Amendment) Act, 1987, by section 4 of the National Standards Authority of Ireland Act, 1996, was that authorised officers no longer had powers of investigation under a number of statutory instruments made under section 44 of the Industrial Research and Standards Act 1961, including Statutory Instrument No. 257 of 1991.

My Department is currently examining the feasibility of preparing legislation to remedy this situation.