Fire Watching (Applications for Exemption).

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance. – in the House of Commons on 17th March 1942.

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Photo of Captain Bertie Kirby Captain Bertie Kirby , Liverpool Everton

asked the Home Secretary what powers have been given to hardship committees to reject applications for exemption from fire-watching duties in cases where family doctors have certified that the applicants are unfit for such duty; what is the total number of applications supported by such medical evidence which have been rejected in the city of Liverpool; and whether he will take steps to ensure that applicants for exemption, supported by such medical testimony, shall be examined by a doctor representing the Ministry before rejecting such applications in the future?

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Jarrow

The tribunals, which have full powers to require an applicant to submit to a special medical examination, are independent bodies whose decisions are not subject to review by any Government Department. The precise particulars about Liverpool asked for are not available, but I understand that of the applications for exemption on medical grounds dealt with by the tribunal in question more than half have been granted either absolutely or subject to later review.

Photo of Captain Bertie Kirby Captain Bertie Kirby , Liverpool Everton

Why are the medical certificates of some applicants for exemption taken into account and not the certificates of others?

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Jarrow

A good deal depends upon the kind of information which is on the medical certificate.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

Does not the Minister consider that the powers of the tribunal should be limited, in order that medical certificates should not be set aside unless by other medical certificates?

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

Would not the Minister consider revising the law, in view of the injustices that are being done by tribunals?

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Jarrow

A good deal of revision is going on regarding details, but alteration of the law as it stands is not a matter for the Home Office.

Photo of Captain Bertie Kirby Captain Bertie Kirby , Liverpool Everton

If I produce signed statements on this matter, will the Minister be willing to look into them?

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Jarrow

I shall be delighted.