HC Deb 16 April 1970 vol 799 cc1562-3
20. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on his plans for reorganisation of the fire services in England and Wales.

Mr. Rees

Not until my right hon. Friend has received and considered the report of the Departmental Committee on the Fire Service.

Mr. Judd

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is considerable uncertainty about the future amongst men of all ranks in the fire services? In view of their devoted service and heavy responsibilities, may I ask my hon. Friend to do everything possible to encourage the speediest possible publication of the Holroyd Report and of the Government's proposals for action on it?

Mr. Rees

I agree that there are devoted people in the fire services who, indeed, do not get enough praise. Publication of the Holroyd Report is not a matter over which my right hon. Friend has direct control, but we are hoping to receive it very soon.

Sir D. Renton

Will the hon. Gentleman give an undertaking to the House that that report will be published as soon as possible after the Home Secretary has received it?

Mr. Rees

I can give that undertaking. No one would be more pleased than my right hon. Friend to get this report, because we urgently want to look into the fire services.

Mr. Horner

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Holroyd Committee has taken nearly as long to deal with this single service as the Royal Commission took to deal with the whole of local government in England? With direct fire losses now running at over £100 million a year, is it any wonder that firemen are questioning whether the Department is dealing with the matter with the urgency that it demands?

Mr. Rees

When a Government Department and a right hon. Gentleman ask someone to produce a report, there is no direct control involved. I hope that my hon. Friend will take into account the fact that there most important matters to consider in the Fire Service and that there may be very good reasons why the report is taking so long.