Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of firemen take great exception to this system, on the ground that they cannot engage in part-time war work in their spare time?
Yes, but the firemen are engaged primarily for fire-fighting purposes. While I appreciate their point, and understand it, this system has been in operation for a long time—in some areas before the nationalisation of the Service. I have given it very careful consideration, and I think that operational efficiency requires this policy to be pursued.
My hon. Friend should not assume that I keep the men awake for 48 hours at a time. They have facilities for sleeping. I must apply the policy gradually, because I want adequate accommodation to be provided before I apply it fully.