asked the Home Secretary whether he has any record of fatalities through the drowning of children who have fallen into National Fire Service water tanks; what representations from local authorities he has received on the matter; and what fresh steps have been taken to minimise the number of these accidents?
I regret to say that 36 children have lost their lives through drowning in these tanks and basins. Representations have been received from local authorities in some of these cases and, naturally, comments have been made by Coroners when conducting inquests; but there has been an increasing recognition of the importance to the nation of these installations and of the magnitude, I might say impossibility, of the task of providing and maintaining at them all fences or other devices which would be proof against adventurous children and not impede the work of the Fire Service. When the matter was last raised in the House by the hon. and gallant Member for East Leicester (Major Lyons), I gave particulars of the various precautions which were being taken, and I am confident that all possible care will be taken to provide and maintain fencing or other means of preventing access where there is risk of children falling into the water. I have also asked chief constables to ensure that special attention is paid to the tanks by their Forces and that children are warned against the danger which they present.
May we have an assurance that, whenever a strong and reasonable representation is made by local authorities in regard to the fencing of these tanks, my right hon. Friend will see that steps are taken to protect them?
I will give any such representations sympathetic consideration. The problem is not to do something which impedes access to the water by the Fire Service. But I am anxious to do everything I can.