HC Deb 15 June 1966 vol 729 cc1437-8
18. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the annual increasing loss to the nation's potential exports by fire; and if he will take the opportunity in forthcoming legislation to ensure that fire prevention personnel and methods are used more extensively to avoid economic loss.

Mr. Ross

I share my hon. Friend's concern at the high cost of fire losses, although no separate figures for export industries are available. Firms in industry and commerce are encouraged and advised by Government Departments, fire brigades and insurance companies on how to improve their fire prevention arrangements. I do not think that there is need for new legislation on fire prevention in industrial premises.

Mr. Hannan

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the lack of uniformity of responsibility applying to officers of local authorities in this matter? Will he examine the position to see what proportion of these officers is engaged in preventive services of this sort, remembering that such work is more valuable than waiting until disasters happen?

Mr. Ross

I assure my hon. Friend that considerable attention has been paid to this matter over a number of years. There are fire prevention officers in every area brigade in Scotland. Whether or rot more powers are required is something which we will look into.

Mr. Woodburn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a great deal of education needs to be done about carelessness and the causes of fires? Is he aware that I have seen quite responsible people throwing lighted cigarette ends into waste paper baskets and doing other stupid things which might cause fires leading to millions of £'s worth of damage? Should not responsible people give an example by not doing such foolish things, and might it not be a good idea to begin by educating children in schools in this matter?

Mr. Ross

If we did what my right hon. Friend suggests in schools, might we not be in danger of causing the smoking habit to spread? Seriously, I agree that there is a considerable amount of carelessness involved in this matter and that people should act more responsibly. I hope that the discussion on this Question will get sufficient publicity to help solve the problem.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Why if one installs central heating to improve the safety of one's house are one's rates increased as a consequence?

Mr. Ross

I can only congratulate the hon. Gentleman on having got that supplementary question in two Questions after a similar question was raised.