asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that many members of the N.F.S. are anxious to obtain their release and to return to their pre-war employment; and if he will indicate how and when they will be able to do so.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is now in a position to give a statement on the reorganisation of the N.F.S., particularly with reference to recruitment and demobilisation.
:My Department has for some time been engaged on measures for the progressive reduction of the N.F.S. strength and I recently received a deputation from the Fire Brigades Union which made representations on this, among other matters. I think it is clear that the strength of the Service is now reaching a point at which further releases must, in the main, be balanced by further recruitment. I am well aware of the desire of many members of the Service to obtain their release and will make a further statement on the matter as soon as I am in a position to do so.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say if he intends that service in the N.F.S. shall be on a voluntary basis or not?
:Under the new scheme of recruitment which I hope to bring in and submit to the House and the local authorities, undoubtedly, it will be voluntary.
Is the Minister aware that in many parts of the country there are a great many redundant N.F.S. personnel, and will they be able to come out of it?
Running a fire service is very much like running a war. You do not know where the fire is going to break out and until it does break out people may appear to be redundant, but when the fire is in progress they are sometimes found to be deficient in numbers.
Is the Minister aware that considerable dissatisfaction has arisen at the method of applying demobilisation in the N.F.S. in the past year or two?
There is some dissatisfaction, and these men are anxious to get back to their ordinary vocations. I sympathise with them, but my duty, at the moment, is to maintain the Service, and I endeavour to see that between man and man justice is done.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am rather puzzled by his answer?
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any statement to make on the future of the N.F.S.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can give a date for the return of fire brigades to local authorities.
I am not yet in a position to add anything to the answer given on 23rd August to my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar), except that consultations with the local authorities are in progress and I shall be meeting representatives of the London County Council and the Local Authority Associations on the 17th instant.
Can the Minister give an indication of when he will be able to make his statement on this matter? There is a feeling in the country that there is a good deal of redundancy, and there is disquiet in some parts of the country about it.
Taking the country as a whole, there is no redundancy. Our real problem is shortage of the necessary personnel. As soon as I have had this conference with the L.C.C. and the Local Authority Associations, I shall be in a position to consider the future of the Service, and I hope to make a statement at as early a date as possible.