HC Deb 05 November 1986 vol 103 cc942-3
5. Mr. Thurnham

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received about standards of safety in electrical installation work in domestic and commercial buildings.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. John Butcher)

I have not received any representations to date, either from private individuals or from official bodies, concerning the standards of safety in electrical installation work in domestic buildings. Questions concerning such work in commercial buildings are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

I have, however, recently received a letter from my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) concerning the attempted installation by a private contractor of substandard electric cable in a private dwelling house belonging to one of his constituents. This matter is being examined by the British Approvals Service for Electric Cables (BASEC) and the trading standards department of the local authority concerned.

Mr. Thurnham

In view of the danger of accidents, including loss of life, from faulty installation work, does my hon. Friend consider that those who do this work should be properly qualified and appropriately registered?

Mr. Butcher

As a result of my hon. Friend's substantive question my officials contacted the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting for its views on this question. I am advised that there has been no recorded increase in accidents attributable to faulty electrical installation. If my hon. Friend would like to discuss a particular incident in his constituency, I am ready to look into the matter.

Mr. Pavitt

In view of the likelihood of the onset of a wet winter, will the Minister discuss with the Department of the Environment the problem of electrical installation standards in inner city areas where repairs are needed, because a large number of houses are out of date and where, because insufficient sums are available from rates as a result of rate capping, it is impossible to ensure safety for old-age pensioners whose electrical apparatus needs to be renewed?

Mr. Butcher

As the hon. Gentleman will know, that is predominantly a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I hope he will be reassured that electrical installations in domestic premises are subject to the provisions of the Electricity Supply Regulations 1937, which give appropriate safeguards for the proper wiring of customer premises.

Mr. Squire

Does my hon. Friend recognise that in the whole of installation work, be it electrical, gas or plumbing, we lag behind most other countries in our determination to protect consumers through a system of registration which would allow for those who are properly qualified to be recognised and rewarded?

Mr. Butcher

I have consulted some of the bodies concerned and I am convinced that at present the process of self-regulation is working to the consumers' benefit.