HC Deb 01 May 1969 vol 782 c1604
29. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he has given to local authorities and fire authorities about allocation of specialist responsibility to chief officers of fire brigades for fire prevention and means of escape in case of fire.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

It is for the authorities concerned to decide how best to discharge their statutory responsibilities; but most fire authorities delegate their fire precautions and means of escape work to the chief fire officer, and it is the practice for authorities who are not fire authorities to consult him. Through H.M. Inspectors of Fire Services and the proceedings of the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Councils, and in the normal course of business, the Home Office does what it can to encourage these practices.

Mr. Judd

Would my hon. Friend agree that it would clarify the procedure if chief fire officers were made responsible throughout the country?

Mr. Rees

We do what we can by encouraging local authorities to do the sorts of things which we regard as right. Perhaps I could leave the matter like that.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

There is the problem that people who want to prepare premises for certain purposes find that there is no standard laid down for the whole of the country. Different fire officers have different ideas which are often contradictory. It is difficult to know whether what one is doing is right.

Mr. Rees

I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman could give me precise examples.