London Fire Service

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th April 1967.

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Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead 12:00 am, 27th April 1967

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of the members of the London Fire Service is coloured; and by how many members the service is below strength.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

Recruitment is a matter for the individual fire authorities who have been asked that every suitable coloured applicant should be given the opportunity of joining the fire service, but so far there have been very few applications from coloured people. I understand that there are three coloured members of the London Fire Brigade, which is less than 0·1 per cent. of the strength. On 31st December, 1966, the brigade strength was 1,619 below the establishment of 6,487.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead

Are not these figures very disturbing? Would not my hon. Friend agree that even the most racially-prejudiced person cannot object to having his life saved by a coloured person, particularly in a cloud of smoke?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

I assure my hon. Friend that racial prejudice does not come into this. Fire brigades are very anxious to have coloured applicants. I have spoken to the Chief Officer of the London Fire Brigade, and he would welcome more applicants. At present very few men are coming forward.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Gentleman must be called before he speaks. Mr. Goodhew.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that inverted racialism is just as obnoxious as racialism, even in Hampstead?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

I shall not comment on Hampstead. In choosing, we must main- tain a standard, whether a man is white or brown, or whatever his colour is.