§ 26. Mr. McCrindle
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he has received any recent representations regarding the proposal for an international standard system of 16-amp plugs.
§ Mr. McCrindle
Can the Minister tell me whether acceptance of this international standard will require the rewiring of domestic and business premises? If so, over what sort of period are we likely to be able to absorb it, and what 23 will be the total cost? Has the Minister any estimate?
§ Mr. Fraser
May I make clear, first, that the Government have not taken a firm view on this issue, and I am glad to have representations from Members of Parliament on it. If the international standard were adopted, it would not require the rewiring of any premises. It would need to be implemented over a period of, perhaps, up to 60 years and would not, therefore, involve any additional cost. It would simply be swapping over to a new system with the rewiring or reconstruction of premises.
§ Mr. Fell
Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that this is a small matter? He shrugs it off as though it is of no significance. It is a matter of the greatest importance which will involve cost for every household. Does the hon. Gentleman know the cost of a plug now? This will cost every household many pounds. Will he, therefore, be very careful?
§ Mr. Fraser
I certainly take the matter seriously. Otherwise I should not have told the House that I do not yet take a view, and neither should I have told the House that I am anxious to hear representations from Members of Parliament. But adoption of the standard would not involve an obligation on anybody with existing wiring to rewire, and the two systems would exist alongside for a long time. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to send me some more considered representations.
§ Mr. Stan Crowther
if my hon. Friend is seriously saying that this can conveniently be done over a period of 60 years, what on earth is the need to do it at all?
§ Mr. Fraser
I am putting forward the view of the International Standards Organisation, not my own view. There are certain advantages for British manufacturers in having international standards, and I shall want to consider that aspect of the matter along with representations by consumers.
§ Mr. Costain
Will the Minister reconsider his answer? As I understand it, he has just told the House that a 16-amp point would cost no more than a 13-amp point. Surely, that is crazy.