HC Deb 07 February 1977 vol 925 cc1044-5
28. Mr. Arnold Shaw

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what steps are being taken to reduce the toll of accidents in the home.

Mr. John Fraser

My Department promotes home safety publicity, makes regulations when necessary relating to the safety of consumer goods, undertakes relevant research, and participates in the preparation of safety standards. In addition, we are carrying out a comprehensive review of existing consumer safety legislation and have set up the national home accident surveillance system based on data from 20 hospitals.

Mr. Shaw

I spoke of the measures that have been taken. Does my hon. Friend agree that a large proportion of accidents happen in the home, especially among elderly people? Will he consider introducing an imaginative campaign, perhaps on television, directed at this sector?

Mr. Fraser

It is true that between 6,000 and 7,000 people die in accidents in the home each year. My Department already provides films for television, tapes for radio and other forms of information to try to prevent these accidents. One of the purposes of the accident surveillance system is to determine those circumstances in which accidents are most likely to happen and then, by legislative change or educative material, to reduce the incidence of these tragedies.

Mr. Fairbairn

Before the Minister introduces legislation to prevent accidents of one sort or another—[Interruption.] With a question I might smother the rubbish that is coming from some. Before the hon. Gentleman introduces legislation to prevent accidents, will he consider the cost per accident that such legislation imposes? Does he agree that we are getting into a state in which we are attempting to control all human behaviour against all possibilities by legislation that imposes impossible costs and bounds on ordinary activity in trade, commerce and domestic life?

Mr. Fraser

If between 6,000 and 7,000 people a year die in accidents in the home, it is worth while using a bit of law and a bit of expense to try to prevent those fatalities. I have never pretended that we can regulate human behaviour by law. It is sometimes a matter of persuasion and sometimes a matter of education It is by a combination of those approaches that we hope to prevent this sort of accident.