Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 31 May, 2005

Written Answers. - Price Display Orders.

  83. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason his Department decided against imposing price display orders on doctors and dentists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18063/05]

  Mr. Martin: I announced in reply to a parliamentary question put to me on 16 December 2004 that I did not intend to proceed with the making of an order under the Prices Acts 1958 to 1972 obliging doctors and dentists to display the charges for their services.

The reasons were both legal and practical. Enforcement of price display orders are carried out by way of regular surveys involving test purchases and by infringement proceedings against those who violate the order. Whereas test purchases are a feasible methodology to measure compliance and to discover infringements in the case of petrol stations and public houses they are not practical or ethical in the case of the services of doctors and dentists. Infringement proceedings on the other hand would not be possible without authorised officers of the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs having access to the medical and dental records of patients and this would not be in compliance with data protection or privacy laws. Given these problems, I could not see how a price display order for doctors and dentists could be effectively enforced and I consequently decided not to proceed with it.