HC Deb 17 January 2000 vol 342 cc551-2
14. Mr. David Crausby (Bolton, North-East)

What plans he has to co-ordinate responsibility for the improvement of fire safety. [103974]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Mike O'Brien)

The Government continue to give priority to community fire safety, and there have been recent welcome reductions both in the number of fires and in deaths from fire. We expect shortly to set up a new fire safety advisory board to help maintain the impetus for improvements in fire safety.

Mr. Crausby

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. I am sure that he is aware that there are some 60 complex pieces of legislation governing fire safety. Does he agree that a single fire safety Bill would help further the reductions in fires and deaths from fires and, most important, would further assist fire authorities in shifting the emphasis from cure to prevention?

Mr. O'Brien

I agree with that. We remain committed to introducing a fire safety Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows. One of the aims of that Bill will be to rationalise fire safety legislation, replacing fire safety provisions in various Acts and introducing a general duty of care, to be enforced as far as possible by fire authorities.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Will my hon. Friend monitor closely some of the aspects of fire reports that are of continuing interest for passengers? Will he, for example, continue to discuss with Eurotunnel the conditions that exist for the safe carriage of passengers, given that there are continuing worries about suggestions that official fire forces might be replaced by people who are employed directly by the authority?

Mr. O'Brien

I will certainly ensure that the Home Office keeps fully informed of the situation regarding the channel tunnel. We want to ensure that all passengers can travel in that tunnel and that all freight can be carried in it in as safe an environment as possible.