HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1292-3
25. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that firemen under his jurisdiction in Scotland who are employed for fire prevention have now to use part of their time in cleaning out fire stations; and what steps he is taking to employ cleaners and thus to release firemen for the discharge of their proper duties.

Lady Tweedsmuir

The duties on which firemen are employed are a matter for fire authorities, always provided that they secure efficient arrangements for fighting fires and advising as to prevention. The employment of cleaners is also a matter for fire authorities and my right hon. Friend has no power to give directions in this matter.

Mr. Hughes

Are not these brave and skilled firemen especially trained in the technique of the prevention and extinction of fires, and is it not a disgraceful waste of their skill and technique that they should be forced to do unskilled work such as that adumbrated in the Question? Is not this a position which ought to be rectified and will the Secretary of State take steps to rectify it?

Lady Tweedsmuir

The responsibility for laying down the form of conditions of service rests with the National Joint Council for local authorities' fire brigades. I agree that fire prevention is most important and steps are being taken to train more fire prevention officers to enable fire authorities to improve their service to the public.

Mr. Ross

Does the hon. Lady appreciate that this aspect of fire fighting has been neglected? Would it not be better if, instead of spending so much time on spit and polish, firemen were enabled to visit factories and similar places so as to see the difficulties which they might have to face in the event of a fire in the factory, and also to take steps to ensure that an outbreak of fire would be most unlikely to happen?

Lady Tweedsmuir

I agree that fire prevention is of prime importance, but the Secretary of State has no power to direct the manner of the duties which firemen carry out.