This has been an interesting debate on an even more interesting group of new clauses and amendments, which deal with combined fire and rescue authorities.
In order to understand part of the overall intention of new clause 5, which was tabled by Mr. Hammond, it must be read in conjunction with amendment No. 3. It seeks to turn the clock back on the modernisation agenda, and to delay the action that both the Bain report and the White Paper argued were long overdue. I shall deal separately with two strands of the argument, the first of which is the impact of new clause 5(1)(a) in conjunction with amendment No. 3. The overall effect would be simple. First, it would remove clause 2(2)(b), which allows fire and rescue authorities to be combined so that their boundaries align with those of the English regions, and replace it with a requirement that within 12 months of any part of the Bill being enacted, an independent study be commissioned into the "optimum geographical areas" for organisation of the fire and rescue service.