§ 34. Mr. Driberg
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that C Division of the Essex County Fire Brigade, serving Barking, Dagenham, Hornchurch, Ilford, and other parts of Metropolitan Essex, is 81 short of its total strength of 453 full-time firemen, that in the next four years 68 more firemen will retire on completing their pensionable service, and that wastage due to resignations is greater than the intake of recruits; and what 633 steps he is taking urgently to make good this deficiency.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
My information is that this division is at present 52 men short of a whole-time establishment of 440; that normal retirements on pension during the next four years are not expected to exceed 40; and that in the last twelve months recruitment to the brigade has exceeded wastage by 52 men.
§ Mr. Driberg
Even if the figures are not exactly the same as those which the right hon. Gentleman has, does he nevertheless agree that there is a very serious situation? How urgently is the right hon. Gentleman taking steps to meet it?
§ Mr. Butler
We have this situation almost throughout the country and we are doing our best to put it right, but in the area which the hon. Member represents it is true that recruitment has exceeded the wastage and to that extent it is satisfactory. But this does not mean that we are sitting back. We are doing our best to improve recruitment.