HC Deb 07 March 1946 vol 420 cc485-7
23. Mr. Douglas Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now any statement to make as to the future of the N.F.S.

Mr. Ede

No, Sir, but I hope to be in a position to make a statement before the end of the month.

Mr. Percy Morris

Will the right hon. Gentleman confer not only with the local authorities but with the representatives of the men concerned before reaching a conclusion as to the future formation of the Service?

Mr. Ede

I am in communication with them and have had several interviews. I hope to have another before the final announcement is made.

32. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the numbers of voluntary enlistment from members of the Armed Forces in the N.F.S. and its present strength.

Mr. Ede

Up to 23rd February, 172 men in the Armed Forces and 669 men, most of whom had been recently released from the Forces under Class A, had been accepted for employment in the National Fire Service. The whole time strength of the Service on 31st January, 1946, was 31,116.

Mr. Davies

May I ask the Minister if he is satisfied with this voluntary recruitment, and what steps he is taking to increase the intake of volunteers to the N.F.S.?

Mr. Ede

i am not completely satisfied with the recruitment, but I think it is going as well as can be expected in all the circumstances, and it shows some sign of improvement

33. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now state when voluntary release from the N.F.S. will become effective.

34. Lieut.-Colonel Corbett

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the terms of release for members of the N.F.S.; and when he proposes to make this a voluntary service.

Mr. Ede

I would refer to the reply which I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) on 21st February

Mr. Davies

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that, when he said the latest date, the date he had in mind was 30th April, 1946, and whether he does not think that the members of the N.F.S. deserve an early statement on this matter, so that they can decide their future?

Mr. Ede

I stand by the statement I have previously made.

37. Mr. Sparks

asked the Secretary State for the Home Department if[...] considered a memorandum prepared by the Middlesex Fire Brigade authorities on the future of the fire service; and if he will make a statement upon the recommendations contained therein.

Mr. Ede

Yes, Sir; and I hope to make a statement as to the Government's policy in regard to Fire Service organisation very shortly.

Mr. Sparks

Would the Minister bear in mind the fact that a number of these local fire brigades were very efficiently organised and administered by some local authorities before they were transferred to the National Fire Service, and will he bear this fact in mind in giving further consideration to the matter?

Mr. Ede

Yes, Sir, but I also have to bear in mind the fact that, in some other parts, local authorities were not very efficient in this matter.

43. Mr. Lipson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why men discharged from the N.F.S. for health reasons or some other honourable cause have not yet received their gratuities; and if he will arrange for these to be paid without further delay.

Mr. Ede

The payment of National Fire Service gratuities is proceeding as rapidly as possible. It would cause delay if any attempt were made to determine the order of payments by reference to the reasons for discharge from the Service.

Mr. Lipson

Can the right hon. Gentleman say if there is any reason why an applicant should not be paid immediately after discharge, as happens when a man is discharged from the Army?

Mr. Ede

The amount of checking which has to be done with the man's previous employer before the service was nationalised leads to a considerable amount of delay. I am glad to say. however, that we are rapidly overcoming the difficulties which have prevented us making payments as rapidly as we should have wished.