HC Deb 12 June 1947 vol 438 cc1439-40
Mr. Ede

I beg to move, in page 22, line r, to leave out Subsection (2), and to insert: (2) The arrangement to be made for the central training institution established under this section shall secure that the institution shall be under the general direction of a board—

  1. (a) consisting as to half of persons appointed by the Secretary of State and as to the remainder of persons appointed by such bodies as appear to the Secretary of State to represent the interests of fire authorities, and
  2. (b) having as chairman such member of the board as may be selected by the other members with the approval of the Secretary of state,
and that before appointing the person having control of the administration of the institution the Secretary of State shall consult the board. I am afraid I shall have to ask the House to listen to me for a little longer on this Amendment. On the last day on which the Standing Committee sat, I indicated that on Report I should have to ask the House to consider the wording of Subsection (2) as it now appears in the Bill. It was inserted in the Bill against the advice of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary. It was not a point on which, in principle, we desired to resist the wishes of the local authorities and the Committee, and I hope that the form in which the Subsection will appear if this Amendment is accepted will prove to be satisfactory. One objection, which I regard as fundamental, to the Subsection as it now appears in the Bill is that if it remains, the people employed in this central training institution will not be eligible to participate in the pension funds. Quite clearly, it is desirable that the people who will be engaged in this central training institution shall be people who have been in the fire service. Some of them will probably come to the institution for a few months, will take part in the courses there in giving instruction, and will then return to their fire authority and be replaced by other people from other fire authorities. It would be deplorable if we were handicapped in getting the best men together, merely because they thought: "Well, if I go there and stay for a year, I lose one year of my pensionable service." That would produce results which might be very harmful to the efficiency of the institution.

Therefore, I propose that this central training institution shall be managed under arrangements which will secure that the board, who direct it generally, shall be constituted half by persons appointed by the Secretary of State and half by persons appointed by the bodies who appear to the Secretary of State to represent the interests of the fire authorities—that is, the County Councils Association and the A.M.C., as far as England is concerned. I shall also have to have representatives of the Scottish local authorities, because, in spite of what has been said today, I am hoping that we may be able to have one training institution for the United Kingdom. I am assured that a fire in Northumberland is not very different from a fire in Berwick-shire, although there was a time when people used to try experiments on both sides of the border to ascertain whether that was true; I understand that it is now an accepted fact. As I say, I hope that we shall have one institution for the United Kingdom. The chairman will be selected by the others, and his name will be submitted to the Secretary of State for approval. Before appointing the principal of the institution consultations will take place to ensure that the person nominated is acceptable. I hope that these suggestions will enable an efficient institution to be established.

Mr. Grimston

As the Bill was originally drafted, there was no provision for the fire authorities to be brought into consultation in the management of the Central Training College. I appreciate why the right hon. Gentleman cannot leave this Subsection as it is in the Bill. If men were denied pension rights for the time spent in the college, it would be very detrimental. The right hon. Gentleman has met the feelings of the Committee, and we are pleased to accept the Amendment

Amendment agreed to.