HC Deb 06 May 1969 vol 783 cc251-2
10. Miss Lestor

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is satisfied that local authorities are fully using the powers given to them by his Regulations to avoid fire risk in houses in multiple occupation; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacColl

I believe that local authorities in general make good use where necessary of their powers to require means of escape in multi-occupied houses. Provisions in the Housing Bill will add to these powers and make it the duty of local authorities to inspect their districts to see whether action is necessary. I will gladly consider carefully any cases of which my hon. Friend may know where it appears that effective use of the powers is not being made.

Miss Lestor

May I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and say how pleased I am that this matter is being looked into? Does my hon. Friend agree that we cannot afford to be complacent about it? Is not one of the things which need attention, particularly in houses in multiple occupation, the inappropriate means of heating often used that cause some of these fires and the lack of means of escape, as we know by the deaths of children and people who cannot jump to get out of a building? Is this not a matter that needs looking into?

Mr. MacColl

The Housing Bill deals with means of escape from fire. On the general question of fire protection, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has a working party looking into this matter.

Sir G. Nabarro

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that in 1960 a number of children were burned to death because of faulty oil heaters at Ware in Hertfordshire, and that there was an exact reproduction of that case in Birmingham in the week before last when a number of children were burned to death due to a faulty oil heater? Is not amending legislation required to raise standards of efficiency for all portable and mobile heaters used in multi-occupied houses?

Mr. Manuel

Any houses.

Mr. MacColl

I have sympathy with what the hon. Member has said. As to the immediate Housing Bill, which is the responsibility of the Minister, means of escape from fire are being considered to see whether they can be improved, especially in regard to enforcement and inspection.