Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (England)

Part of business of the house (today) – in the House of Commons at 6:07 pm on 15th December 2014.

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Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough 6:07 pm, 15th December 2014

It is a great pleasure to follow Andy McDonald, and I certainly agree with his tribute to firefighters. I find myself in a very difficult position tonight in deciding how to vote on this statutory instrument. The very first debate I ever had in Westminster Hall was on Rushden fire station, which the Conservatives were fighting to keep open and the Labour county council wanted to close. In Northamptonshire we have an excellent fire and rescue service. In some respects it leads the whole of Europe. [Interruption.] Does Andy Sawford want to intervene? I will tell the hon. Gentleman, while I am at it, that Tom Pursglove, the excellent Conservative candidate for Corby, and I are today launching a campaign for more fire cover for north Northamptonshire. We will go up there tonight and—[Interruption.] Does the hon. Member for Corby want to intervene?

Turning to firefighters’ pensions, there is one issue that seems to cut through all of this. I have spoken with the chief fire officer and the FBU representatives and seen firefighters on the picket line, and I went to see Green Watch in Wellingborough. In all these disputes, we should ignore the FBU and the employers and listen to the actual firefighters and what they tell us. The one problem is that firefighters are genuinely worried that when they get to 55 they might, through no fault of their own, lose their pension. If the Minister could give me an assurance that those firefighters would be redeployed or—