HC Deb 30 July 1959 vol 610 cc670-1
38. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that four persons recently died as a result of a fire at the factory of J. F. Spears, Limited, Great Hampton Street, Hockley, and a number of people in houses adjoining this factory were in considerable danger because of inadequate means of escape; what report he has received from the Chief Fire Officer, Birmingham, concerning this fire; and if he will make a statement.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I am sure the House will join with me in expressing sympathy for the relatives of those who lost their lives in this fire. A report upon the operational aspects of the fire has been received from the chief fire officer. The report does not mention the danger to people living in nearby houses, and I understand that it is considered to be doubtful whether these people were in danger on this occasion.

Mr. Yates

Will the hon. Lady take note of the fact that a number of tenants had to be put out into the street for two hours because the passage was narrow and dangerous? Is she further aware that the housing manager of Birmingham admits that there are many premises of this nature which cause considerable danger and apprehension to many people in Birmingham, especially in view of the loss of life which has taken place? Will she look into the matter, with a view to safeguarding the lives of Birmingham people?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

While appreciating the concern shown by the hon. Gentleman, I would point out to him that my right hon. Friend's responsibility is concerned with seeing that the fire brigade functions efficiently—I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that it did—and with ensuring that it is in a position to give adequate advice about fire prevention. Fire precautions in private dwellings are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs.