HC Deb 10 March 1960 vol 619 cc625-7
34. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the communication addressed to his Department by the Chief Fire Officer, West Ham Borough Council, on 14th December, 1956, reporting tests carried out by a local firm of oil heater manufacturers and pressing for an investigation of oil heaters with a view to the introduction of safety measures; and what reply was sent.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Yes, Sir. The letter was discussed with the Chief Fire Officer concerned in January, 1957, and he was informed that the question of the safe use of oil heaters was already being investigated by the Departments concerned. These investigations in fact led to advice being given in a bulletin prepared with the collaboration of Government Departments by the Fire Protection Association, and issued in February, 1957, to the effect that portable oil burning heaters ought not to be placed in draughts.

Dr. Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, of course, that was three years ago and that consequently there is dissatisfaction amongst responsible manufacturers and others that the matter appeared to be shelved for so long? Will he press on with this matter of oil heaters as a Government responsibility, by legislation if necessary, in which those of us who have studied the matter in the Parliamentary Home Safety Committee will be glad to give him our help and support?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I have already seen my hon. Friend and have offered to meet him and his hon. Friends, and, indeed, any other hon. Members interested in this matter of safety in the home. As regards his reference to legislation, I prefer to await the result of the consultations which are taking place today with the manufacturers. As regards progress made, he will note that a warning of a very authoritative character was issued as early as February, 1957, since when a good deal of work has been done. As I indicated in my statement on these heaters, it was only when this special wind appliance was recently produced that the most up-to-date information was available to authoritative sources. I have various of my colleagues involved in this in their Departments, and I undertake that we shall pursue the mattter with the utmost thoroughness.

Mr. Gordon Walker

If, as we think he should, the right hon. Gentleman seeks legislative power to control the sale of these dangerous heaters, may I assure him that we for our part on this side of the House will certainly facilitate the passage of such legislation?

Mr. Butler

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I think that shows the spirit in which we should all tackle this matter.

Mrs. McLaughlin

On a point of order. In view of the fact that it has been impossible to raise the very many issues in regard to this very urgent situation concerning home safety, particularly in regard to oil heaters, may I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Motion for the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity?

Mr. Speaker

I would repeat my request that hon. Members should adhere to the traditional formula in these matters.