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.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nick Raynsford Nick Raynsford Minister of State (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) (Local and Regional Government) 8:00 pm, 15th March 2004

No, the logic is that in terms of the geographical arrangement for the discharge of the responsibilities of the fire and rescue service, it is absurd to suggest another regional alignment that is entirely separate from the existing one. That would create confusion rather than coterminosity. I accept entirely that police authorities do not operate on that basis at the moment, but they are closely engaged in the regional resilience arrangements, and are putting arrangements in place to ensure that they can discharge their regional resilience responsibilities. As I have said, those are organised through the Government regional offices on the basis of the existing administrative regions—which, incidentally, were introduced by the Conservatives when they were in government.

On Second Reading on 26 January, Mr. Gummer acknowledged that the existing Government office regions were

"a compromise that fitted most of the Departments that then had regional organisations".—[Hansard, 26 January 2004; Vol. 417, c. 92.]

If we had time, an independent study such as that which the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge suggests in new clause 5 might be an interesting activity in which to engage although, as he knows only too well, boundary debates tend to be long drawn out, fractious and unproductive. It is usually the Liberal Democrats who suggest such arrangements, which are a recipe for constant talk and debate, and no action. That is the key to why the hon. Gentleman has tabled the new clause. He wants long, protracted talk and delay, with no action, to avoid anything ever happening, because he is obsessed with the view that we are somehow committed to imposing regions by the back door, which is all part of some kind of European plot.