§ 22. Mr. John Dugdale
asked the Home Secretary the reasons which have led his Department to institute a shift system by which firemen are on duty continuously for 48 hours out of 72 hours?
§ Mr. H. Morrison
This system of duty has been in operation over part of the National Fire Service for a considerable time. The reason for extending it generally in England and Wales is that its adoption is in the interests of the operational efficiency of the Service.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of firemen take great exception to this system, on the ground that they cannot engage in part-time war work in their spare time?
§ Mr. Morrison
Yes, but the firemen are engaged primarily for fire-fighting purposes. While I appreciate their point, and understand it, this system has been 158 in operation for a long time—in some areas before the nationalisation of the Service. I have given it very careful consideration, and I think that operational efficiency requires this policy to be pursued.
§ Mr. Thorne
Cannot the Home Secretary find some system which will obviate the necessity of duty for 48 hours at a time? As he knows, nature compels one to close one's eyes during some part of a 48-hour period.
§ Mr. Morrison
My hon. Friend should not assume that I keep the men awake for 48 hours at a time. They have facilities for sleeping. I must apply the policy gradually, because I want adequate accommodation to be provided before I apply it fully.