I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be wise to do that. How is he proposing to explain that to the rest of the firemen, and what opportunity will this House have to consider the remarkably discriminatory and selective use of his powers, for example, as regards the Shetland fishing situation, the Hull freezer trawlermen and now, perhaps, the Glasgow firemen—but not, for example, as regards companies like English China Clay and their employees? Shall we have an opportunity to consider the exercise of the Secretary of State's discriminatory powers and their impact on other industries so affected?
It is not appropriate at the Dispatch Box during Question Time to rehearse the individual arguments on any number of complicated factors which are represented to my right hon. Friend for giving consent in any one of a number of cases. As for the opportunities that the House will have for considering the matter, I should think that those who proposed the legislation and made this provision might have given careful consideration to it when introducing the Bill.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the Fire Brigades Union is in favour of the Glasgow firemen receiving the £2 a week? Is he further aware that other firemen in Scotland have no objection to the money being paid, but would object if it were on the basic rate of wages, which is a different matter? Is he also aware that all the contributions made by hon. Gentlemen opposite on incomes policy could properly be interpreted as supporting a voluntary policy? Will he therefore arrange for a fairly early test of opinion in this House on a voluntary policy so that we might not then have some of these anomalies?
My right hon. Friend and I are keenly aware of the attitude of the Fire Brigades Union on this issue, since it has made representations to us on the matter. The union has indicated that it draws a clear distinction between the grounds for this consent and the position of other fire brigades. I hope that we shall be able to please my hon. Friend by putting to the House the test whether the Opposition support the continuation of a statutory policy in the near future.
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the possibility that not all experts on the Glasgow fire service come from South Angus? Does he agree that in the fire service and in Government circles it is generally accepted that the Glasgow fire service has to face fire risks and hazards not usually encountered in other cities in the United Kingdom?