Oral Answers to Questions — Serious Fires (Inquiries).

– in the House of Commons on 19th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

asked the Home Secretary whether, now that the fire services are nationally controlled, it is proposed to institute inquiries into fires causing loss of life as in the recent case of the Deansgate Hotel, Manchester; and whether such inquiries will be conducted on the lines of those covering colliery explosions and railway disasters?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Any case involving loss of life would, of course, be inquired into by a coroner, but it is now the normal practice to call for a full report on any serious fire, and a formal inquiry would be held in any case where this appeared to be necessary. From the particulars which have reached me, I have no reason to believe that the fire which my hon. Friend mentions was not well handled, but I have already called for a full report. As my hon. Friend is no doubt aware, certain allegations which had been made in connection with this fire have already been dealt with in a statement to the Press by the Regional Commissioner.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it would allay public feeling in these cases if there were an inquiry such as is made into colliery disasters? Will he find out whether there is any truth in the allegation that because the Fire Service is nationally controlled, it is not as efficient in this case as when it was under the local authorities?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Suitable inquiries are being made. At first sight I have no reason to believe that there is any truth in the allegation. I do not think the type of inquiry that is made into colliery disasters would be appropriate, but I can assure my hon. Friend that dl proper inquiries are made by headquarters in all suitable cases.