HC Deb 10 May 1938 vol 335 cc1516-7

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 69.

[Captain BOURNE in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make further provision for fire services in Great Britain and for purposes connected therewith, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of the expenses of the Secretary of State incurred for the purposes of the said Act in the administration thereof, in the payment of remuneration or allowances to any person appointed thereunder or in connection with the training centre established by him, and of any expenses authorised by him with the consent of the Treasury to be incurred by the Fire Service Commission constituted by the said Act, by any fire service board appointed under the said Act, or by any Central Advisory Council for Fire Services so appointed." (King's Recommendation signified.)—[Sir S. Hoare.]

9.42 p.m.

Mr. Westwood

We shall not oppose the Financial Resolution, not because we are satisfied with it, but because we are not prepared to oppose a Resolution which will at least provide some money for the purpose of co-ordinating a service for which many hon. Members have pleaded to-day. We shall allow the Money Resolution to go through while lodging our protest, so far as Scotland is concerned, at the betrayal of a pledge contained in Section 78 of the 1929 Local Government Act. That pledge was given by the party opposite in the following words in that Section: It is hereby declared that it is the intention of this Act that, in the event of material additional expenditure being imposed on any class of local authorities by reason of the institution of new public health for other service after the commencement of this Act, provision shall be made for increased contributions out of the moneys provided by Parliament. I did not plead on the Second Reading of the Bill nor do I plead now for the subsidising of inefficiency. I claimed then, as I claim now, that it is the duty of every authority to have efficient firefighting appliances, but having set a standard, as you will under the Bill, every local authority which has failed in its duty in the past should be compelled to provide efficiency. Having once provided efficiency, then a percentage of the annual charges necessary for maintaining efficiency ought to be met by the National Exchequer. I claim that the pledge given in Section 78 of the Act of 1929 is not being fulfilled by this Money Resolution. Undoubtedly it will increase materially the expenditure in connection with these services, and therefore it is right, while not opposing the Money Resolution, to enter our protest against the refusal of the Government to provide for a certain percentage of the recurring maintenance charges in the Resolution.


S. Hoare

hon. Member has made two such helpful speeches in the course of the Debate that I would not like it to end under a misapprehension. He has referred to a pledge. I can assure him that that is not so. He quoted a Section from an Act which brought into operation the block grant system, and I can assure him that the aditional expenditure, if any, under this Bill will be taken into account under the block grant system, and if, as he thinks, expenditure arises, that would be a factor that would be taken into account when the next block grant was made.


I point out that I know that there is always a lag, under the quinquennial system of settling grants, of practically five years, and, that being so, it creates all those difficulties for local authorities in making the very progress that the Government ask them to make, in connection with Factory Acts, air-raid precautions, or the Bill that has been discussed to-day.

Question put, and agreed to. Resolution to be reported To-morrow.