Clause 1 — Powers of the Secretary of State
Orders of the Day — Fire Services Bill
Mr Matthew Green (Ludlow, Liberal Democrat)
My hon. Friend Mr. Davey would have been speaking at this point but he is absent because he has had to attend the funeral of a close family member.
The major amendments in the group would add sunset clauses to the Bill. There are three time periods on offer: our 15-month period, the Conservatives' 18-month period and the two-year period suggested by Mr. Lloyd. The Government seem to be minded to accept one of the amendments and I suspect that they will err toward their friendly face on the Back Benches, although that will be more for party political reasons than because of specific differences among the seven-month range on offer. However, it would be welcome if they accept one amendment because it is better to have a sunset clause than not to have one at all. We will be grateful if they accept the purpose of such a clause.
We would have welcomed its inclusion at the outset. Much of the debate on Second Reading was on that very issue and we could have moved on to more substantive matters had that become clearer earlier.
It is obvious that a sunset clause is necessary. Ministers were reluctant to introduce the Bill. We do not blame them for that, and perhaps it should not even have reached this stage. The best sunset that it could have is for the FBU to accept the settlement on
I especially hope that the FBU accepts the settlement because one group in particular has been penalised by the dispute. The retained firemen—