asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that many men between the ages of 55 and 60 are working 58 hours or more a week plus meals and travelling times, amounting in some cases to 14 hours away from home; that these men are called upon to do fire-watching duties, and as a result of 48 hours fire-watching time a month in addition to such daily work are being physically impaired for production work; and whether there is any method whereby authenticated cases can be exempted from fire-watching?
The Business Premises Order gives power to appropriate authorities to direct the exemption from fire-prevention duties in whole or in part, of persons engaged on vital work for exceptionally long hours; and I have every reason to believe that this power is exercised with great care by the appropriate authorities who are naturally anxious that production should not suffer through over-fatigue caused by the performance of fire-prevention duties outside working hours.
Does that mean that older men must apply to some doctor for a certificate that they are not able to do this work; and does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is not easy to get a certificate of that character?
It all depends upon the nature of the case. If it was a medical case, medical evidence would be necessary. If it is purely a matter of age, other and non-medical considerations probably arise. No doubt the House will understand that my problem is not a superabundance of fire watchers from which I have to eliminate a superfluity, but to get enough of them. Nevertheless, I want to be reasonable, in accordance with the request of my hon. Friend.