New Clause 5 — Regional Management Structures

Part of Fire and Rescue Services Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 15th March 2004.

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Photo of Parmjit Dhanda Parmjit Dhanda Labour, Gloucester 7:45 pm, 15th March 2004

The hon. Gentleman is getting very excited. I shall deal with his point shortly.

It would be helpful to know whether the Minister can give Gloucestershire certain assurances, not least an assurance that the £6 million tri-centre building and its facilities will survive.

In Gloucestershire, the extent of integration has gone beyond call centres. We now have a tri-service workshop. The three services work together to ensure that their equipment, machinery and vehicles are worked on not by the same set of engineers but under the same roof. Much can be learnt from that model. We do not want the region to lose it. As the Minister knows, the services have also set up a "blue skies group", which thinks through problems and does what it can to bring about even more integration. I hope that before any decisions are made about regional control centres the Minister will visit that centre, and take a good look at it.

I am trying to be pragmatic, as Richard Younger-Ross has been, especially in Committee. I note that, whether deliberately or otherwise, he proposes in amendment No. 22 the insertion of paragraph (c) in clause 2 in addition to paragraphs (a) and (b) rather than their replacement by it. In other words, he is creating circumstances in which a more regional or consolidated structure would exist. That is certainly pragmatic.

If a regional structure is adopted for call centres and control rooms, I do not think there is a better example of best practice in the south-west than what we have managed to achieve in our tri-service centre. I should be interested to hear the Minister's view on our chances of ensuring that it remains in Gloucestershire and that the three services can continue to learn from the three levels of integration. I think that Gloucestershire is an ideal location, given the way in which they have worked together and made things happen.