Arrangements were made with the War Office last year for the release from the Home Forces of men who had fire-fighting experience and who were willing to return to the fire service, provided that they were not serving in certain specified categories in the Army. More than 4,300 men were released under these arrangements, of whom 482 returned to the London Fire Brigade. I propose, however, to consider in consultation with my right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State for War, whether anything further can be done in this matter.
I hope that those of immediate urgency, dealing with the constitution of the new fire force areas and the responsibility of area officers, will be made at an early date.
asked the Home Secretary whether the Fire Prevention Executive Committee, under the chairmanship of the Postmaster-General, is to remain in being or whether its functions are to be altered; and whether he has in contemplation the setting-up of any central board, council, or committee, to control and advise, and which will include an Inspector-General and a Chief Staff Officer for Fire?
This question is wider than that of fire prevention, and that point does not arise. It will arise on the fire fighting side, but I am unable to give the information.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there is a good deal of public anxiety on this matter and that the sooner it is settled and a clear decision is reached the better?
Last week my right hon. Friend said that he was not contemplating any major changes in the fire prevention side. Do I understand from his first reply to-day that there is a modification of that decision?
I think that my hon. Friend was dealing with another aspect of fire prevention, and on that my answer will still stand. On the general question of the fire prevention organisation, certain aspects are under consideration.
I have strongly deprecated any action by employers which would tend to deplete the Civil Defence services, and very few cases have come to my notice of workers being pressed to choose between remaining in those services and performing fire prevention duties at the premises where they work. If my hon. Friend has any specific cases in mind, perhaps he will inform me.