Glasgow Firemen (Travel Allowances)

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th April 1974.

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Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , Angus South 12:00 am, 30th April 1974

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he now intends to exercise his discretion to override the Pay Board's rulings in the case of the travelling allowances paid to Glasgow firemen.

Photo of Mr Albert Booth Mr Albert Booth , Barrow-in-Furness

My right hon. Friend is considering giving his consent, under paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 to the Counter-Inflation Act 1973, for the payment of travel allowances to Glasgow firemen.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , Angus South

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?

Photo of Mr Albert Booth Mr Albert Booth , Barrow-in-Furness

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.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Ayrshire South

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?

Photo of Mr Albert Booth Mr Albert Booth , Barrow-in-Furness

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.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

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?

Photo of Mr Albert Booth Mr Albert Booth , Barrow-in-Furness

The nature of the fire risks and hazards in Glasgow was among the factors represented to us when we were considering this consent.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , Angus South

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the inadequate nature of that reply, I beg leave to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter again at the earliest possible opportunity.