HC Deb 07 July 1960 vol 626 cc693-4
37. and 38. Mrs. Braddock

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what consideration he has given to the need to improve safety precautions against fire in large shops and departmental stores in which members of the public and employees may be present; and if he will introduce legislation to enable local authorities and fire authorities to prescribe the measures to be taken in the areas for which they are responsible, and to inspect the arrangements made;

(2) if he will introduce legislation with regard to standard fire precautions in departmental stores similar to the Factories Act, 1959, which contains powers for the Government to make regulations an standards of fire prevention, fire equipment, fire warning systems, exit signs and means of escape in factory premises.

Mr. Vosper

My right hon. Friend has this matter very much in mind, but he is not as yet in a position to make any statement about legislation.

Mrs. Braddock

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that these Questions arise out of the very distressing fire in Liverpool? Can he say when the report of the inquiry will be completed? In view of the fact that the existing legislation dealing with precautions against fire in shops is contained in the Public Health Act, 1936, and, in Liverpool, the Local Government Act, 1921, does not he consider that the time has arrived when all this legislation should be reconsidered in order to give fire authorities the right to deal with the question of fire precautions in shops?

Mr. Vosper

On the first part of that supplementary question, my right hon. Friend has received a report from his chief inspector, but he cannot make a statement until the conclusion of the inquest. As to the second part of the question, it was for just that reason that my right hon. Friend has for some time been giving consideration to this problem.

Mr. Tilney

Has the Home Secretary given further consideration to the desirability of having a full public inquiry into the ghastly disaster in Liverpool?

Mr. Vosper

I do not think that I should add to what I have said about this incident, except that my right hon. Friend is aware of my hon. Friend's request.