HC Deb 18 October 1945 vol 414 cc1350-2
20 and 21. Major Ungoed-Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what release systems are at present in operation in the N.F.S.; why different systems are in operation in the different CD. regions; who decides what system shall be adopted; what provision is made for release on compassionate grounds; and who decides whether any application for release on compassionate grounds shall be granted;

(2) whether he is aware that in the case of Leading Fireman Hopson, of which he has been given particulars, the chief regional fire officer refused to consider an application for compassionate release because he had decided that releases should only be made in accordance with a points system; whether he will ensure that this release system shall be reviewed to include release on compassionate grounds with a right for the applicant to refer his application to a suitable authority outside the N.F.S. within his region; and whether he will give immediate consideration to Leading Fireman Hopson's application on its merits.

22. Mr. A. Ernest Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there is any machinery whereby members of the N.F.S. can obtain release on compassionate grounds.

Mr. Ede

The general direction which has hitherto governed the procedure for the release of firemen from the National Fire Service provided that after men in categories like the building trades, priority should be given so far as possible to those with the longest service. This general direction is now under review. In some regions, after discussion with the representatives of the men, modifications of the general direction have been introduced and I am informed have given satisfaction. Apart from releases under this general direction it is within the discretion of the Fire Force Commander or the Chief Regional Fire Officer, according to the rank of the individual concerned, to discharge a man at any time on compassionate grounds whether or not he is due for release under the general arrangements, and I have no reason to think that there is any failure to exercise this discretion properly. I do not feel disposed to introduce any system of appeals to an outside body for which I see no need. With regard to Leading Fireman Hopson, I am informed that he has now received notice of discharge in the ordinary course.

Lieut.-Colonel Lindsay

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the importance of giving the men some basis on which they can calculate when they are likely to be discharged?

Mr. Ede

I think that there is a general understanding on the order in which they will come out. The exact dates on which the discharges will run now depend on recruitment.

Mr. Grimston

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention to give any priority to men who are proprietors of one-man businesses?

Mr. Ede

That has been considered in certain cases where it has been made good on compassionate grounds.

Major Ungoed-Thomas

Is there a direction to the Chief Regional Fire Officer that he must consider applications on compassionate grounds?

Mr. Ede

There is an instruction to him to consider them, but of course the discretion as to whether they are granted is left to him.

Major Legge-Bourke

In view of the fact that some stations that were full-time stations are being turned into part-time stations, and the men are hanging about, are they allowed to carry on civil occupations pending a final decision?

Mr. Ede

I do not think I can make a statement as general as that.