§ Mr. Frank Dobson ' (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the failure of the Secretary of State for Energy to carry out his statutory duties under the Gas Safety Regulations 1972.On 6 October 1981 there was a gas explosion in a flat in my constituency. As a result of that explosion, one of my constituents was maimed and disfigured for life. Before the end of the month, the gas board submitted a technical report to the gas standards branch of the Department of Energy.
The Department of Energy and the Director of Public Prosecutions took until October this year before deciding to prosecute the private contractors concerned on four charges under the gas safety regulations. The case was heard at Clerkenwell magistrates court either yesterday or the day before.
The prosecution was ruled invalid and the DPP was ordered to pay the costs of all the parties concerned because counsel for the contractors successfully argued not that they had not caused the explosion, but that the summons was invalid because it was signed by a civil servant and not, as it should have been, by the Secretary of State for Energy. After 14 months of slothful delay on the part of the Department of Energy and the DPP, this is nothing short of a fiasco.
It is self-evident that the matter that I have raised is specific. It is important because the gas standards branch is responsible for the safety of gas installations, not only in my constituency but throughout the nation.
The matter is urgent because the catalogue of failure that I have described shows that the Secretary of State and the DPP appear to be no longer fit to carry out their duties. In these circumstances, they should both come to the House to explain what they have done. If they cannot convince the House that they can maintain gas safety standards as they should, they should resign.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. Dobson) gave me notice before 12 o'clock midday that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,the failure of the Secretary of State for Energy to carry out his statutory duties under the Gas Safety Regulations 1972.The House will have listened with deep concern, as I did, to what the hon. Gentleman said. As the House knows, it has instructed me to take into account the several factors set out in the order, but to give no reason for my decision.
I listened to the hon. Gentleman with sympathy, but I must rule that his application does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.