Oral Answers to Questions — Fire Service (Dispute)
Mr Merlyn Rees (Leeds South)
I met separately the Secretaries of the NJC this morning to—and I use the correct word—clarify the situation.
My hon. Friend spoke about my responsibilities. I am not unaware of them. But the question of overtime has been thrown into the discussion, and I noticed over the weekend that people were talking about it as if it were new. In fact, there is overtime which is subsumed into the 48-hour week. I leave the matter at that.
I understand that it was trade union policy some years ago to end rent allowance. That, too, was subsumed in the payment. By the nature of the Fire Service—as the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine), whom I see opposite me and who is involved in the Fire Service, will know—this is a most complicated matter. These matters are best discussed round the table, and that is my aim, because at the end of the day that will be the way in which this dispute will be settled.