HC Deb 22 June 1961 vol 642 cc1654-5
9. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the tests of domestic fire extinguishers, recently conducted by the Consumer Advisory Council, which have shown that many of these extinguishers are defective; and what steps he is taking to ensure that manufacturers improve the standards of such extinguishers, and to warn the public generally that many of those now on the market, and in private homes, are undependable and dangerous.

Mr. Renton

My right hon. Friend has seen a report of the tests. His responsibilities do not extend to regulating the standards of performance of fire extinguishers placed on sale to the public. Advice on suitable types of extinguishers is given by local fire authorities on request, and I understand that the Fire Protection Association is shortly to issue a pamphlet of guidance on this matter.

Mr. Driberg

If the hon. and learned Gentleman is, to some extent, repudiating responsibility for this matter, will he recall the perhaps comparable case of the paraffin heaters, in which, after lives had been lost, the Government did accept responsibility, even though private manufacturers were concerned? Will he look at this matter again and take a slightly more positive attitude than he has in his Answer?

Mr. Renton

The Consumer Protection Bill will enable my right hon. Friend to make regulations laying down safety requirements, and to that extent there will be an advance on the present position. Suitable extinguishers of all types are on a list of appliances approved by the Fire Offices Committee.

Miss Bacon

Is not the hon. and learned Gentleman responsible for many aspects of safety? As my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) has said, why, if the Home Secretary was responsible to some extent for taking action on oil heaters, has he no power in this matter?

Mr. Renton

It simply is a fact that my right hon. Friend has no power, but he was glad to support the Consumer Protection Bill.

Mrs. Slater

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman consider recommending to his right hon. Friend that power should be taken and regulations laid under the Consumer Protection Bill?

Mr. Renton

That will be a matter for consideration when the Bill has passed into law.