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Clause 2—(Arrangements For Mutual Assistance)

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 30 July 1947

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Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 13, leave out from beginning to "for" in line 16, and insert:

"(4) A reinforcement scheme may make provision."

I think it would be for the convenience of the House if we were to take with this Amendment, the Amendment in page 4, line 47, at end, to insert:

"(4) Save as expressly provided in this Act, a fire authority shall not make any charge for services rendered by the authority."
The purpose of providing expressly that a fire authority shall not make any charge for services rendered by the authority is to make it quite clear that the fire authority shall not be entitled to require the owners or occupiers of property on which fires occur to make any payment in respect of services rendered by the brigade. The Fire Brigades Act, 1938, which is now being repealed, provides for the abolition of such charges, and it is feared that some doubt may arise as to the intentions of Parliament if the Amendment to Clause 3 is not made. Fire authorities are allowed to make charges for special services and for arrangements with another fire authority under Clause 12. The Amendment to Clause 2 (4), is consequential on the other Amendment.

May I ask the Home Secretary what would happen in those cases of what I might call vexatious calls on a fire brigade? If any expense is caused, can it be put upon the people?

If the vexatious call is a false alarm, there are powers under the Bill to deal with it. The special charges relates to circumstances where a fire brigade is used for some purpose other than putting out fires, if, for instance, the engines were used to pump out a flooded cellar, or in other ways in which the brigade might render service to a private citizen which is not part of its normal functions.

May I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having accepted this Amendment, because it is an improving Amendment and one which makes the Bill, which is not a good Bill, better than it was. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on accepting the wisdom of another place.

May I tell the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) that I suggested the Amendment which was moved by the noble Lord in another place. May I also say that the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston), on the last occasion when we discussed this Bill, thought that it was a good Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.