§ Mr. Osborne
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that because this year's grain harvest has been exceptionally good, it has proportionately increased the fire risk; that at a With call farm in 1943 a fire destroyed 15 stacks of corn of about 600 quarters where the water pond had not been cleared out since 1890; and will he consult with the Departments concerned and see if the N.F.S., which is now largely unemployed, can be used for inspecting and improving water 1035W reserves on large farms and so minimise the risk of loss from fire of valuable foodstuffs.
It is important at all times, and particularly now that food is in short supply, that farmers should be active in taking proper precautions to protect farm crops against fire. Farmers have had an opportunity to purchase surplus static water tanks, and these could suitably be used in or near stack yards as a fire-fighting reserve. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Home Affairs does not accept the suggestion that the personnel of the N.F.S., which has been greatly reduced in numbers, is largely unemployed. But subject to their primary fire-fighting responsibilities, the N.F.S. will continue, on request, to assist farmers to fill tanks, or ponds that have dried out. Alternatively, the drainage machinery of county war agricultural executive committees can be used, on request, by farmers, to clean out ponds and thus increase water resources. On many farms the position has been met by the installation of a piped water supply system with the assistance of a grant from my Department under the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1941.