The London Fire Commissioner

Policing and Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 22nd March 2016.

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Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 4:15 pm, 22nd March 2016

I beg to move amendment 27, in schedule 2, page 132, line 36, at end insert—

“In section 21 (disqualification from being the Mayor or an Assembly member) after subsection (1) insert—

‘(1A) Subsection (1)(a) does not prevent a person appointed under section 67(1)(b) as the Deputy Mayor for Fire, or appointed under section 67(1)(b) and designated as the Deputy Mayor for Fire, from being elected as or being an Assembly member.’”

This amendment has the effect that a person who is appointed or designated by the Mayor of London as the Deputy Mayor for Fire may be elected as, or may continue to be, a member of the London Assembly.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 28 to 36.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

These are technical amendments that are required to clarify certain details about the two new roles.

Amendments 27, 31 and 32 will ensure that the person appointed or designated a deputy mayor for fire may still be elected as a member of the London Assembly or continue to be a member, if already elected. Amendments 28 to 30 require that confirmation hearings, which apply to certain appointments by the Mayor of London, will apply to the deputy mayor for fire. Amendment 33 will amend the Localism Act 2011, and amendments 34 to 36 ensure that the London fire commissioner is required to consider reports and recommendations from the local auditor.

Amendment 27 agreed to.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I beg to move amendment 187, in schedule 2, page 132, line 39, at end insert—

“(2A) Amend section 38 (delegation) as follows—

(a) in subsection (2) (persons to whom functions exercisable by the Mayor may be delegated) after paragraph (db) insert—

‘(de) London Fire Commissioner;’.

(3) In subsection (7) (power to exercise delegated functions where no existing power to do so) after paragraph (bb) insert—

‘(bc) London Fire Commissioner,’.

(4) After subsection (8B) (further delegation, and Mayor’s power to continue to exercise delegated functions) insert—

‘(8C) An authorisation given by the Mayor under subsection (1) above to the London Fire Commissioner in relation to a function does not prevent the Mayor from exercising the function.’”.

This amendment would delegate the GLA’s general power to do anything which it considers will further the promotion of economic development and wealth creation, social development to the improvement of the environment in Greater London to the London Fire Commissioner. This is in line with the powers delegated to MOPAC.

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 186, in schedule 2, page 139, line 21, after “Commissioner” insert—

“on all matters relevant to the London Fire Commissioner.”

This amendment would ensure that the fire and emergency planning committee would have the power to scrutinise the entire remit of the London Fire Commissioner.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Home Office)

Amendment 186 would expand the remit of the fire and emergency planning committee, which is the body that the Bill will create to scrutinise the performance of the London Mayor, the deputy mayor for fire and the London fire commissioner on fire matters. Amendment 187 would slightly expand the role of the London fire commissioner by giving him or her equivalent delegated powers over economic development and the environment to those held by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.

I tabled amendment 186 because the Bill envisages a very narrow remit for the fire and emergency planning committee. Under the Government’s proposals, the committee will be able to look only at fire matters. That does not acknowledge the changing nature of the fire service in London, which, like brigades up and down the country, is increasingly playing a role in resilience and flooding issues as part of its day-to-day role. For example, we recently saw the London fire brigade take a lead on Exercise Unified Response, which brought together key stakeholders in the capital to test their ability to deal with a large-scale building collapse.

In the last month, the London fire brigade has launched a co-responding trial in four boroughs in the capital—Merton, Lambeth, Wandsworth and, happily, the amazing borough of Newham—as part of the national joint council’s workstream on the 21st-century firefighter. If the trial is a success, the new committee will want to scrutinise closer working with the ambulance service in London to promote accountability and good-quality service delivery.

Given the changing role of the fire service and the greater collaboration we are likely to see in the capital, we propose that the committee should be able to investigate and consider all matters relevant to the London fire commissioner. That would ensure that the London Assembly’s scrutiny was as robust as it could be and allow members of the committee to cover everything from prevention and community safety to closer working with the other emergency services and local authority partners.

The Government and the Opposition support greater collaboration between the emergency services. We need to ensure that where that collaboration takes place, there is not a gap in the scrutiny of our public services, with the various scrutiny bodies staring at each other and wondering whether the projects fall under their remit. I hope that the Minister will take this opportunity to clarify his plans on how we will deal with those situations, both in London and elsewhere in the country.

Amendment 187 would ensure that the London fire commissioner had the delegated powers he needs to use the fire service to help Londoners. Section 30 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 gives a general power to the GLA to do anything it considers will further any one or more of its principal purposes—namely,

“promoting economic development and wealth creation in Greater London; promoting social development in Greater London; and promoting the improvement of the environment in Greater London.”

The Mayor has the ability to delegate those powers to MOPAC, which is the equivalent office to the London fire commissioner, but for policing. That enables the police to engage in any work that they think is for the good of London.

Allowing the Mayor to delegate those powers to the London fire commissioner would mean that the London fire brigade could do the same. It is really important that we accept the amendment for two reasons, and I reckon that the Minister can find it in his heart to give Londoners what they want. First, all of us want to see all of our emergency services working together to serve their communities. That is the spirit behind the duty to collaborate, and it is the spirit behind this amendment. Secondly, it is important that we accept the amendment so as to formally recognise the parity of esteem that fire has with the police service, which is something I have tried to talk about this afternoon—I think I have managed to get Government Members to understand that that is what I am attempting to do.

There is no reason to think that the London fire brigade is not just as capable of finding innovative ways to serve and aid Londoners as the Metropolitan police. To do that, its commissioners require equivalent powers. I look forward with interest to what the Minister has to say, with great hope that he will accept our amendments.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

As always, the shadow Minister has put her amendments forward in good faith. In respect of amendment 187, however, I think that she is slightly misguided about the current powers. The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority does not have the GLA’s general powers delegated to it, and nor does the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. On that basis, I could not bring that across to the London fire commissioner, as I think she understands.

On amendment 186, under proposed new section 327I(3), which will be inserted into the Greater London Authority Act 1999 by schedule 2, the fire and emergency committee will be able to scrutinise any actions, decisions or matters relating to the functions of the London fire commissioner and any officer of the London fire commissioner. The powers are already in the legislation, and surely we do not need more legislation.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Home Office)

On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: 28, in schedule 2, page 133, line 3, after “4” insert—

“( ) Section 60A (confirmation hearings etc for certain appointments by the Mayor) is amended as follows.”.

This amendment and amendments 29 and 30 ensure that the provisions for confirmation hearings in the Greater London Authority Act 1999 apply where a person is appointed as a member of the staff of the Greater London Authority by the Mayor of London and is later designated by the Mayor as the Deputy Mayor for Fire.

Amendment 29, in schedule 2, page 133, line 3, leave out from “In” to “applies” in line 4 and insert

“subsection (3) (offices to which section 60A”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 28.

Amendment 30, in schedule 2, page 133, line 11, at end insert—

“( ) After subsection (4) insert—

(4A) This section also applies in any case where the Mayor proposes to designate as the Deputy Mayor for Fire a person appointed under section 67(1)(b).

(4B) References in section 327H and Schedule 4A to appointment of a person as the Deputy Mayor for Fire (however expressed) include such a designation.”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 28.

Amendment 31, in schedule 2, page 133, line 21, leave out “(see section 327F)” and insert

“, or appointed under section 67(1)(b) and designated as the Deputy Mayor for Fire,”.

This amendment and amendment 32 ensure that a person who is appointed as a member of the staff of the Greater London Authority by the Mayor of London, and later designated by the Mayor as the Deputy Mayor for Fire, may be elected as a member of the London Assembly.

Amendment 32, in schedule 2, page 133, line 26, leave out from “Fire” to “from” in line 27 and insert

“, or

( ) a person appointed under section 67(1)(b) and designated as the Deputy Mayor for Fire,”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 31.

Amendment 111, in schedule 2, page 145, line 23, after “Commissioner” insert

“but only for the purposes of section 138B”.

This amendment has the effect that certain provisions of the Local Government Act 1972 about religious observance do not apply to the London Fire Commissioner, as they can only apply to a body which has meetings of its members.

Amendment 112, in schedule 2, page 148, line 37, at end insert—

“( ) for ‘, a combined authority established under section 103 of that Act’ substitute ‘and a combined authority established under section 103 of that Act’,”.

This amendment and amendments 113 to 116 replace the consequential amendments to insert references to the London Fire Commissioner into the Housing Associations Act 1985 with amendments to remove existing references to the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority from that Act. This is because the provisions to which the amendments relate apply only to Wales.

Amendment 113, in schedule 2, page 148, line 38, for “for” substitute “omit”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 112.

Amendment 114, in schedule 2, page 148, line 39, leave out “substitute ‘and the London Fire Commissioner’”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 112.

Amendment 115, in schedule 2, page 148, line 40, for “for” substitute “omit”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 112.

Amendment 116, in schedule 2, page 148, line 41, leave out “substitute ‘the London Fire Commissioner’”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 112.

Amendment 117, in schedule 2, page 149, line 38, at end insert—

“In section 1(9) (meaning of politically restricted post under a local authority) for ‘and every member of staff of a fire and rescue authority created by an order under section 4A of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004’ (as inserted by paragraph 12AN of Schedule1) substitute ‘every member of staff of a fire and rescue authority created by an order under section 4A of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 and every member of staff of the London Fire Commissioner’.”

This amendment brings staff of the London Fire Commissioner within the definition of persons holding a politically restricted post under a local authority in section 1 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 for the purposes of the provisions on disqualification and political restriction in that section.

Amendment 118, in schedule 2, page 150, line 3, leave out from “after” to “insert” in line 4 and insert

“paragraph (aa) (as inserted by paragraph 12AO(2) of Schedule1)”.

This amendment and amendments 119 to 126 make modifications to the amendments to the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 in Schedule 2 to the Bill to take account of the amendments to that Act to be inserted into Schedule 1 by amendment 106.

Amendment 119, in schedule 2, page 150, line 7, leave out “(5)” and insert

“(5B) (as inserted by paragraph 12AO(3) of Schedule1)”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 118.

Amendment 120, in schedule 2, page 150, line 12, leave out first “an elected local policing body” and insert

“a fire and rescue authority created by an order under section 4A of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004’ (as inserted by paragraph 12AO(4) of Schedule1)”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 118.

Amendment 121, in schedule 2, page 150, line 12, leave out second “an elected local policing body” and insert

“a fire and rescue authority created by an order under section 4A of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 118.

Amendment 122, in schedule 2, page 150, line 16, leave out from “after” to “insert” in line 17 and insert

“paragraph (aa) (as inserted by paragraph 12AP(2) of Schedule1)”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 118.

Amendment 123, in schedule 2, page 150, line 20, leave out from “sub-paragraph” to “insert” in line 21 and insert

“(ia) (as inserted by paragraph 12AP(3) of Schedule1)”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 118.

Amendment 124, in schedule 2, page 150, line 26, leave out first “an elected local policing body” and insert

“a fire and rescue authority created by an order under section 4A of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004’ (as inserted by paragraph 12AP(4) of Schedule1)”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 118.

Amendment 125, in schedule 2, page 150, line 26, leave out second “an elected local policing body” and insert

“a fire and rescue authority created by an order under section 4A of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 118.

Amendment 126, in schedule 2, page 150, line 31, leave out “(1)” and insert

“(1B) (as inserted by paragraph 12AQ of Schedule1)”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 118.

Amendment 127, in schedule 2, page 150, line 39, at end insert “, and

( ) section 10 (limit on paid leave for local authority duties).”

This amendment applies the provisions on limits on paid leave for local authority duties in section 10 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 to employees of the London Fire Commissioner.

Amendment 33, in schedule 2, page 153, line 32, leave out from “authority’)” to end of line 34 and insert

“omit paragraph (g) (the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority).”.

This amendment has the effect that a reference to the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority is removed from section 27 of the Localism Act 2011 rather than being replaced with a reference to the London Fire Commissioner. Section 27 concerns the conduct of members of a relevant authority, but as a corporation sole the London Fire Commissioner will not have members.

Amendment 34, in schedule 2, page 154, line 13, after “120” insert—

“(1) The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 is amended as follows.”.

This amendment and amendments 35 and 36 apply paragraph 5(7) of Schedule 7 to the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 to the London Fire Commissioner. The effect is that the requirement to consider a report or recommendation of a local auditor at a meeting is replaced with a requirement for the Commissioner to consider the report or recommendation.

Amendment 35, in schedule 2, page 154, line 13, leave out

“of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014”.

See the explanatory statement for amendment 34.

Amendment 36, in schedule 2, page 154, line 16, at end insert—

“( ) In Schedule 7 (reports and recommendations by local auditor) in paragraph 5(7) (duty of certain authorities to consider report or recommendation) (as amended by paragraph 25 of Schedule 1) for ‘or a fire and rescue authority created by an order under section 4A of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004’ substitute ‘, a fire and rescue authority created by an order under section 4A of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 or the London Fire Commissioner’.”—

See the explanatory statement for amendment 34.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 10