Fire Service.

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence. – in the House of Commons on 29th May 1941.

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Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

asked the Home Secretary whether he will approach the War Office for the release of the numerous trained men of the London Fire Brigade, who are now in the Army, and anxious to return to their fire-fighting duties?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

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.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

While expressing appreciation of that reply, may I ask whether, as stated by the Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, there are 400 men of the London Fire Brigade in the Services anxious to come back to fight fires in London?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I could not say without notice, but evidence of that kind will no doubt help me in my arguments with my right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State for War.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

Will my right hon. Friend explain how these experts in the fire brigade service were allowed to join the Army?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I expect that it happened in the days when a lot of people did not attach as much importance to Civil Defence as they do at the present time.

Photo of Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish , Lewes

asked the Home Secretary when he expects to be able to complete the regulations for the State fire service set up under the recent Act?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

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.

Photo of Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Will these regulations come before the House, or be placed in the Library, or in what form can they be discussed in the House?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

My impression, although I am not sure, is that these regulations will be in the same class of procedure as regulations made under the Emergency Powers Act.

Photo of Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish , Lewes

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?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I am unable at this stage to make any announcement about possible changes of organisation.

Photo of Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to give us the names of the Inspector-General and Chief Staff Officer for Fire whom he mentioned in his speech in the House?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

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.

Photo of Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish , Lewes

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?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I have given an assurance that we shall move with all practical speed, and I hope that my hon. and gallant Friend will not cast doubt on that assurance.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lindsay Mr Kenneth Lindsay , Kilmarnock

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?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

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.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Riley Mr Benjamin Riley , Dewsbury

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that some employers are exercising pressure on employés, who are already doing Civil Defence service, also to undertake fire-watching; and whether he has approved of this course?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

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.