Fire Service

Scottish EXECUTIVE – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 17th June 1999.

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Photo of Lloyd Quinan Lloyd Quinan Scottish National Party 2:30 pm, 17th June 1999

To ask the Scottish Executive what measures it intends to implement to protect fire service pensions in the light of the proposed review of the fire service in Scotland. (S1O-65)

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour

The review of the service in Scotland is examining the structure of the fire service. It therefore has no implications for the fire service pension scheme.

Photo of Lloyd Quinan Lloyd Quinan Scottish National Party

Why, then, has the Fire Brigades Union sent to all councillors in Scotland a document that refers to the fact that the Government wants to make changes to the grey book, which has been in force since the end of the second world war as the basis of negotiations with the fire brigades? The union believes, on the basis of a Home Office document, "Fire Service Pensions Review: a Consultation Document", that the Government intends to make changes for new members of the fire service.

Can Mr Mackay assure me that new members of the fire service will not have reduced pension availability, unlike their colleagues who are currently serving? More important, I draw the minister's attention to the decision made at the Fire Brigades Union's conference on 11 May 1999:

"That this conference rejects the national employers' proposals as contained in their letters of 17 July 1998 and 22 March 1999 to alter the present conditions as contained within the national scheme of conditions of service. Conference therefore agrees"-

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

Order. You must ask a question, Mr Quinan. You cannot read out a long quotation in the middle of a question.

Photo of Lloyd Quinan Lloyd Quinan Scottish National Party

I simply want to know whether the minister will apply what Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, intends to apply: the withdrawal of the right to strike for members of the Fire Brigades Union if it implements the decision made at its conference.

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour

If I remember rightly the first supplementary question that was asked, no, I cannot explain why the Fire Brigades Union has issued the document to which Lloyd Quinan referred. However, I know how the confusion has arisen. The initial question was about the review of the structure of the fire service. The pension scheme is a separate matter, which is currently the subject of a consultation that is being carried out by UK ministers. It is an on-going consultation. When the report is published, the Scottish Executive will take a view of its own on fire pension schemes. If any changes were made to the fire pension scheme, current members would retain their existing rights and the new scheme would apply only to staff joining the fire service after the introduction of any new scheme.