HC Deb 10 December 1942 vol 385 cc1689-90
38. Sir F. Sanderson

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that whereas the City of London is regarded as a danger zone for the carrying out of fire-watching duties at night, the city of Westminster, which was almost equally badly bombed, is not so considered; and, on behalf of the women fire-watchers who have been compelled to do duty in the dangerous area of Westminster, will he consider the amendment of this Order to ensure that women will not be asked to do fire-watching until all available men have been utilised?

Mr. H. Morrison

The special Compulsory Enrolment Order for the City of London, which applies only to men, was made because having regard to the extremely small resident population it was necessary to require persons working in the City to do fire-guard duty in any part of it even though they lived outside. I cannot say in advance what areas will be the subject of special schemes under the new Order, but in all areas women will not be required to do fire prevention duties at premises where they work until all available men who work at those premises are doing the full amount of duties for which they are liable.

Sir F. Sanderson

Does not my right hon. Friend consider that it is both expedient and wise that all districts, as far as practicable, should be treated alike and that where there are men available no women should be called upon to serve?

Mr. Morrison

I have already informed my hon. Friend that, if men are available, women will not be called upon to serve, but it is difficult for me to lay down any dictum that all districts should be treated alike, because unfortunately very few districts are alike.

41. Mr. Brooke

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the efficiency of street fire parties in London will be seriously weakened if all the experienced street fire party leaders and street captains are compulsorily taken away to do ordinary fire-watching in business premises elsewhere; and whether he will therefore arrange that they are not withdrawn from their special duties for this different purpose, especially as Circular 158/42, issued by his Department, describes them as the basis of the whole fire guard organisation?

Mr. H. Morrison

I attach great importance to the efficient organisation of street fire parties through party leaders and street captains, and the point raised by my hon. Friend is being considered in connection with the pending changes in the Fire Prevention Orders.