New Clause 5 — Regional Management Structures

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

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

No, I am afraid to say that the hon. Gentleman is getting more confused. We have said clearly that we will use the powers in clause 2(2)(b) only in the interests of public safety where there has been a failure to put in place arrangements that guarantee resilience. Those are the only circumstances in which we will use those powers, and if we have to use them, it is important that we should do so reasonably swiftly. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would agree with that. The amendment and new clause, however, would essentially mean that no progress could be taken until the body that was carrying out the independent review had not only been set up but had reported. As the new clause allows only that that would be set up within 12 months of the Bill's receiving Royal Assent, there could be years of delay during which there were inadequate public safety arrangements in a particular region. I cannot believe that the hon. Gentleman is seriously advocating that we should tolerate that position.