HC Deb 30 January 1941 vol 368 cc660-1
30. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Home Secretary whether, in his proposed compulsory service for fire-fighting and civilian defence, he has considered the position of conscientious objectors who have previously volunteered for such service or for air-raid precautions and Auxiliary Fire Service duties and were rejected by municipal authorities; and whether, in view of the urgent need of service in civilian defence, he proposes to take any action to prevent municipal authorities losing any fire-fighter, air-raid precautions or Auxiliary Fire Service service through prejudice against those who offer or are compelled to serve?

Mr. H. Morrison

It is not intended to prescribe that conscientious objectors shall be exempted from the general obligations of the recent Defence Regulation relating to fire prevention, and I deprecate refusals to accept offers of voluntary service in Civil Defence from such persons at a time when the services of every citizen are required.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in many cases conscientious objectors have offered themselves for fire-fighting and other hazardous duties, and have been rejected purely on the ground of prejudice? Will he take some steps to prevent that?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, I am aware that that is so. The local authority is the employer; but, in view of the statement I have made, I hope that beneficial results will follow.

44. Mr. R. C. Morrison

asked the Home Secretary when local authorities in danger areas will receive supplies of protective helmets for distribution to fire watchers?

Mr. H. Morrison

I am asking local authorities to indicate their requirements and they will be met as soon as practicable on a priority basis. I hope that substantial issues will be made in the course of the next few weeks.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Is the Home Secretary aware that the enthusiasm of these State fire-fighting parties is being seriously affected by this delay, particularly when these men see half-page advertisements every day from big West End stores advertising protective helmets, and yet in some streets they are unable to get a single helmet for fire watchers; and will he be prepared, at any rate, to issue sufficient to allow of two helmets per street, as some streets have not a single helmet?

Mr. H. Morrison

I can assure my hon. Friend that there are not large supplies in West End stores, but as very large quantities of these helmets have been ordered the supply will be considerable and I shall get them along very soon.

Mr. Garro Jones

Is the Home Secretary aware that the specification of these helmets is most meticulous in character and that many engineers of great repute say that a modification of specification would result in a great increase of production?

Mr. H. Morrison

My hon. Friend will be glad to learn that that is exactly what has already been done.

Captain Alan Graham

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider making use of surplus Italian steel helmets, of which there will be a considerable supply available?

Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte

Will the Home Secretary also consider the provision of protective helmets for members of the Home Guard who have not got them?

Forward to