HC Deb 22 April 1931 vol 251 cc967-8
36 and 37. Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND TROYTE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, as representing the Forestry Commissioners (1) whether he is aware that the men employed on fire patrol duty in their planted areas on Sundays are expected to do ordinary work in addition to their fire patrol duties on this day; and whether he will take immediate steps to stop this practice;

(2) whether he is aware that men employed at Haldon, Devonshire, are now ordered to perform fire patrol duties on Sundays instead of being asked to volunteer, as was done formerly; and whether he will issue instructions that in future volunteers shall be called for and that men shall not be warned for these duties unless sufficient volunteers cannot be obtained?

Mr. ALPASS (Forestry Commissioner)

I have been asked to reply. At Haldon Forest, which is an extremely inflammable area much frequented by the public especially at week-ends, a fire protection gang is detailed by rota for Sundays. Some of the men patrol and the others are engaged on screefing fire lines and other work unless fire breaks out in the forest when they proceed to extinguish it. A special rate of wages is paid. There is keen competition for the employment, and the men are detailed for the sake of convenience and to give the employment to all the men in turn. If a man detailed for a particular Sunday does not wish to attend he finds a substitute and informs the forester. There is therefore no need to change the existing practice.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that only six men are employed each Sunday; that they have to do this, in addition to their work; that they are working seven days a week; and that there is discontent at the present arrangement?


All I can say is that the statement of the hon. and gallant Member is not in accordance with the information supplied to the Forestry Commissioners.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have this information direct from the men themselves?


Will the hon. Gentleman find a better term than "gang" to apply to the men performing this duty?