§ 59. Mr. J. Griffiths
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that local authorities in the depressed areas of Wales are seriously concerned about the increasing rate burden involved in carrying out the provisions of the Fire Brigades Act, 1938, and other air-raid precautionary measures; and whether he will consider measures to grant further financial assistance to them to ease this burden?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)
My right hon. Friend has received a number of resolutions from local authorities in Wales, with reference to the increased expenditure falling on the rates under the Fire Brigades Act, 1938, and, as regards this part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to a question by the hon. Member for the Sedgefield Division of Durham (Mr. Leslie) on 25th April last. My right hon. Friend understands that, in exceptional circumstances, the Commissioner for the Special Areas (England and Wales) is prepared to consider applications for grants from the Special Areas Fund towards the cost of works for improving the fire fighting services of local authorities in the Special Areas. As regards the air-raid precautionary measures, substantial percentage grants are available from the Exchequer in respect of the approved expenditure of local authorities on their emergency measures, in addition to fire fighting appliances and equipment which are placed at their disposal by the Government for emergency use. My right hon. Friend can hold out no prospect of supplementary financial assistance from the Exchequer for these purposes.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Has the hon. Member considered whether it is possible to consider an extension of the existing grant to areas outside the depressed areas?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte
Does my, hon. Friend realise the hardship which is caused to the smaller local authorities by this extra expense and will he not reconsider his refusal to make a grant towards it?
§ Sir Joseph Nall
May I ask whether the Home Office are taking steps in allocating these grants to ensure that a standard type of equipment is being used so that it will be interchangeable between districts?