New Clause 5 — Regional Management Structures

Part of Fire and Rescue Services Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:00 pm on 15th March 2004.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour/Co-operative, Stroud 8:00 pm, 15th March 2004

What I am saying is that the proposed system—be it the Government's version or the Opposition's—is deeply flawed and is antagonising local people. The previous Conservative Government thought that they were being clever in taking the police out of local authorities' remits, but that decision has rebounded, in that there seems now to be a total lack of accountability to the wider populous.

We have an opportunity to consider how to deal with the three emergency services. If the Gloucestershire trust is anything to go by, we should consider the dilemma of the ambulance service. The Gloucestershire trust is the smallest trust. It is undermanned and underfinanced and regarded as very vulnerable. I urge the Government to consider carefully the arrangement between the three services in the context of our strategic direction. It will not help if we simply assume that fire authorities will deliver better services, while allowing the other two emergency services to drift in the wind. That is not acceptable. It will not constitute good delivery or build good relationships, and it will lead to greater confusion.