HC Deb 15 March 2004 vol 419 cc107-12

  1. The Secretary of State may direct a Fire and Rescue Authority to take, or not to take, action specified in the direction in relation to—
    1. a fire of a type or occurring in circumstances specified in the direction, or
    2. an emergency of another kind of a type or occurring in circumstances specified in the direction.
  2. A direction under this section may require a fire and rescue authority to act outside the authority's area.
  3. A direction under this section may be varied or revoked by a further such direction.
  4. A direction under this section shall be made by order.—[Mr. Hammond.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Hammond

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord)

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 13—Fire safety

  1. The Secretary of State may give direction to a fire and rescue authority to inspect the fire safety of one or all of—
  1. schools;
  2. residential and nursing homes;
  3. homes in multiple occupation; in the authorities' area.
  4. The Secretary of State shall give such direction to a fire and rescue authority as conferred by subsection (1) of this Clause if requested to do so by a local authority or fire and rescue authority for the area of that authority.
  5. Where inspections are made under subsections (1) or (2) the Fire and Rescue Authority shall make a report detailing, in particular how fire safety may be improved by—
  1. the installation of fire sprinkler or misting systems;
  2. alteration to means of escape;
  3. passive fire protection measures;
  4. fire and smoke alarm system.
  5. Where reports are received by the Secretary of State under subsection (3) of this Clause the Secretary of State shall consult with—
  6. the existing authorities in question;
  7. any persons he considers appropriate as to whether further legislation is required to require the retro fitting of such measures and to what extent it is practical to do so.
  8. The Secretary of State shall after such consultation as carried out under subsection (4) of this Clause publish the results of such consultation.

Amendment No. 5, in page 6, line 18, leave out Clause 10.

Mr. Hammond

Amendment No. 5 would pave the way for new clause 7 by removing clause 10 from the Bill. Clause 10 gives the Secretary of State the power to intervene directly in a fire or incident. I shall spare the Deputy Prime Minister's blushes, given that he is in the Chamber, and not repeat the lurid image that was painted in Committee of him sitting in the basement of No. 26 Whitehall ordering fire engines around Britain.

Conservative Members believe that that arrangement is not appropriate. Systems need to be established to allow professionals to handle operational situations through existing arrangements such as reinforcement, which the Bill provides for. The Under-Secretary may envisage a situation following an unconventional terrorist attack, but powers in the Civil Contingencies Bill provide for the direction of resources in such an emergency.[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order, If hon. Members are not listening to, or taking part in, the debate, would they either leave the Chamber or listen quietly? I am having difficulty hearing the hon. Gentleman who is addressing the House.

Mr. Hammond

It would be more appropriate to set down procedures for co-operation and the control of major incidents than to use the ad hoc power in clause 10. New clause 7 sets out the same powers of direction, but does that in advance, and in relation to a type of fire or incident, or a fire or incident that occurs in specified circumstances. It provides that such direction would be made by order, which would enable parliamentary scrutiny of the arrangements that were put in place.

We do not understand the need for the Secretary of State's role of hot direction under clause 10. Fire and rescue authorities should be established and charged with their functions. The Bill contains provisions to put in place co-operation and reinforcement procedures, and new clause 7 would give the Secretary of State all the powers that he needs, in advance, to set out precise procedures, control arrangements and allocation of responsibilities in specified circumstances. Clause 10 confers an unreasonable and disproportionate power that will undermine the professionalism of the service and question the reinforcement and contingency arrangements that will routinely be put in place under the Bill. There is much more that I could say, but in view of the time, I shall now conclude.

Phil Hope

Amendment No. 5 would remove the Secretary of State's power to direct a fire or rescue authority in the event of a specific fire or other emergency, and new clause 7 would replace that power to direct with an order-marking power similar to that in clause 9. The amendment reflects a misunderstanding of what clause 10 is intended to cover. To clarify and repeat what was said in Committee, it will be invoked only when an emergency is imminent, or upon us, and when urgent action is thus necessary.

For example, the Secretary of State will be able to direct a fire and rescue authority to respond when an unforeseen emergency occurs for which the fire and rescue service has been unable to plan and there is no time to make the necessary order under clause 9. Such a direction will remove any concern an authority might have had about a possible conflict between its local responsibilities and the need to respond to an incident not covered by its core duties.

Clause 10 will also allow a measure of central coordination when a fire or other emergency occurs on such a massive scale that a local or even regional response is insufficient. That might include a catastrophic fire, widespread and serious flooding or an emergency such as a terrorist event on the scale of 11 September 2001. During such an extreme or unusual event, it is vital for the Secretary of State to offer direction should circumstances dictate it so that events can be reacted to swiftly and urgently on the ground. In such circumstances, there would be no time for the Secretary of State to make an order—

It being Nine o'clock Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKERput forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [26 January]

The House divided: Ayes 153, Noes 265.

Division No. 89] 9:00 pm
Allan, Richard Bellingham, Henry
Amess, David Beresford, Sir Paul
Atkinson, Peter(Hexham) Blunt, Crispin
Bacon, Richard Boswell, Tim
Baker, Norman Bottomley, Peter(Worthing W)
Baldry, Tony Brady, Graham
Barker, Gregory Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L. McIntosh, Miss Anne
Browning, Mrs Angela Mackay, rh Andrew
Burnett, John Maclean, rh David
Burstow, Paul McLoughlin, Patrick
Butterfill, Sir John Maples, John
Calton, Mrs Patsy Maude, rh Francis
Cash, William Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
Chapman, Sir Sydney(Chipping Barnet) May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Chidgey, David Mitchell, Andrew(Sutton Coldfield)
Chope, Christopher
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Moss, Malcolm
Collins, Tim Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Cotter, Brian Norman, Archie
Davey, Edward(Kingston) O'Brien, Stephen(Eddisbury)
Davies, Quentin(Grantham & Stamford) Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Davis, rh David(Haltemprice & Howden) Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Doughty, Sue Portillo, rh Michael
Fallon, Michael Price, Adam(E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Field, Mark(Cities of London & Westminster)
Prisk, Mark(Hertford)
Flight, Howard Randall, John
Flook, Adrian Redwood, rh John
Foster, Don(Bath) Rendel, David
Gale, Roger(N Thanet) Robertson, Laurence(Tewk'b'ry)
Garnier, Edward Roe, Mrs Marion
Gibb, Nick(Bognor Regis) Rosindell, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra Ruffley, David
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Russell, Bob(Colchester)
Goodman, Paul Sanders, Adrian
Gray, James(N Wilts) Selous, Andrew
Green, Damian(Ashford) Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Green, Matthew(Ludlow) Shepherd, Richard
Greenway, John Simmonds, Mark
Grieve, Dominic Simpson, Keith(M-Norfolk)
Gummer, rh John Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Hammond, Philip Spicer, Sir Michael
Hancock, Mike Spink, Bob(Castle Point)
Harris, Dr. Evan(Oxford W & Abingdon) Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Harvey, Nick Streeter, Gary
Hawkins, Nick Stunell, Andrew
Hayes, John(S Holland) Swayne, Desmond
Heald, Oliver Swire, Hugo(E Devon)
Heath David Syms, Robert
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David Taylor, Ian(Esher)
Hendry, Charles Taylor, John(Solihull)
Hermon, Lady Taylor, Dr, Richard(Wyre F)
Hoban, Mark(Fareham) Taylor, Sir Teddy
Holmes, Paul Teacher, Sarah
Horam, John(Orpington) Thurso, John
Howarth, Gerald(Aldershot) Turner, Andrew(Isle of Wight)
Hughes, Simon(Southwark N) Tyler, Paul(N Cornwall)
Hunter, Andrew Tyrie, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael Viggers, Peter
Jackson, Robert(Wastage) Walter, Robert
Jenkin, Bernard Waterson, Nigel
Johnson, Boris(Henley) Watkinson, Angela
Kennedy, rh Charles(Ross Skye & Webb, Steve(Northavon)
Inverness) Whittingdale, John
Key, Robert(Salisbury) Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Wiggin, Bill
Knight, rh Greg(E Yorkshire) Williams, Huwel(Caernarfon)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Williams, Roger(Brecon)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Wills, Phil
Lamb, Norman Willshire, David
Lansley, Andrew Winterton,Ann
Laws, David(Yeovil) Young, rh Sir George
Leigh, Edward Younger-Ross, Richard
Lewis, Dr. Julian(New Forest E)  
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Llwyd, Elfyn Hugh Robertson and
Luff, Peter(M-Worcs) Mr. Mark Francois
Abbott, Ms Diane Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ainger, Nick Ennis. Jeff(Barnsley E)
Ainsworth, Bob(Cov'try NE) Etherington, Bill
Alexander, Douglas Farrelly, Paul
Allen, Graham Field, rh Frank(Birkenhead)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary Fisher, Mark
Atherton, Ms Candy Fitzpatrick, Jim
Baird, Vera Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Banks, Tony Follett, Barbara
Barnes, Harry Foster, rh Derek
Battle, John Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Beard, Nigel Foster, Michael Jabez(Hastings
Beckett, rh Margaret & Rye)
Begg, Miss Anne Foulkes, rh George
Benn, rh Hilary Francis, Dr. Hywel
Bennett, Andrew Gardiner, Barry
Best, Harold George, rh Bruce(Walsall S)
Blackman, Liz Gerrard, Neil
Blizzard, Bob Gibson, Dr. Ian
Borrow, David Gilroy, Linda
Bradley, rh Keith(Withington) Godsiff, Roger
Bradshaw, Ben Goggins, Paul
Brennan, Kevin Griffiths, Jane(Reading E)
Brown, rh Nicholas(Newcastle E Griffiths, Win(Bridgend)
Wallsend) Grogan, John
Brown, Russell(Dumfries) Hall, Patrick(Bedford)
Browne, Desmond Hanson, David
Bryant, Chris Havard, Dai(Merthyr Tydfil &
Buck, Ms Karen Rhymney)
Burnham, Andy Healey, John
Caborn, rh Richard Henderson, Ivan(Harwich)
Cairns, David Hepburn, Stephen
Campbell, Alan(Tynemouth) Hesford, Stephen
Campbell, Mrs Anne(C'bridge) Heyes, David
Campbell, Ronnie(Blyth V) Hill, Keith(Streatham)
Caplin, Ivor Hinchliffe, David
Casale, Roger Hodge, Margaret
Caton, Martin Hope, Phil(Corby)
Cawsey, Ian(Brigg) Hopkins, Kelvin
Chapman, Ben(Wirral S) Howells, Dr. Kim
Clark, Mrs Helen(Peterborough) Hughes, Beverley(Stretford & Urmston)
Chapman, Ben(Wirral S) Howells, Dr. Kim
Clark, Mrs Helen(Peterborough) Hughes, Beverley(Stretford & Urmston)
Clark, Dr. Lynda(Edinburgh Pentlands) Humble, Mrs Joan
Clark, Paul(Gillingham) Hurst, Alan(Braintree)
Clarke, rh Tom(Coatbridge & Chryston) Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Clelland, David Ingram, rh Adam
Coaker, Vernon Irranca-Davies, Huw
Coffey, Ms Ann Jackson, Glenda(Hampstead & Highgate)
Coleman, lain
Colman, Tony Jackson, Helen(Hillsborough)
Connarty, Michael Jamieson, David
Cook, Frank(Stockton N) Jenkins, Brian
Corbyn, Jeremy Johnson, Alan(Hull W)
Cousins, Jim Johnson, Miss Melanie(Welwyn Hatfield)
Cox, Tom(Tooting)
Crausby, David Jones, Helen(Warrington N)
Cruddas, Jon Jones, Kevan(N Durham)
Cunningham, Jim(Coventry S) Jones, Lynne(Selly Oak)
Cunningham, Tony(Workington) Jones, Martyn(Clwyd S)
Davey, Valerie(Bristol W) Kaufman, rh Gerald
David, Wayne Keeble, Ms Sally
Dawson, Hilton Keen, Alan(Feltham)
Dean, Mrs Janet Keen, Ann(Brentford)
Denham, rh John Kemp, Fraser
Dhanda, Parmjit Khabra, Piara S.
Dismore, Andrew Kidney, David
Dobbin, Jim(Heywood) Kilfoyle, Peter
Dobson, rh Frank King, Andy(Rugby)
Donohoe, Brian H. King, Ms Oona(Bethnal Green & Bow)
Doran, Frank
Drew, David(Stroud) Knight, Jim(S Dorset)
Eagle, Maria(L'pool Garston) Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Edwards, Huw Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Efford, Clive Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie Roche, Mrs Barbara
Laxton, Bob(Derby N) Rooney, Terry
Lazarowicz, Mark Ross, Ernie(Dundee W)
Lepper, David Roy, Frank(Motherwell)
Leslie, Christopher Ruane, Chris
Levitt, Tom(High Peak) Russell. Ms Christine(City of Chester)
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew Ryan, Joan(Enfield N)
Lucas, Ian(Wrexham) Salter, Martin
McCabe, Stephen Sawford, Phil
McDonagh, Siobhain Sedgemore, Brian
McDonnell, John Shaw, Jonathan
McIsaac, Shona Sheerman, Barry
McKenna, Rosemary Short, rh Clare
Mackinlay, Andrew Simon, Sio[circ]n(B'ham Erdington)
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona Simpson, Alan(Nottingham S)
McWalter, Tony Singh, Marsha
McWilliam, John Skinner, Dennis
Mahon, Mrs Alice Smith, rh Andrew(Oxford E)
Mann, John(Bassetlaw) Smith, Geraldine(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Marris, Rob(Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon(Blackpool S) Soley, Clive
Marshall, David(Glasgow Shettleston) Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Marshall, Jim(Leicester S) Steinberg, Gerry
Marshall-Andrews, Robert Stewart, David(Inverness E & Lochaber)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael Stinchcombe, Paul
Meale, Alan(Mansfield) Stoate, Dr. Howard
Merron, Gillian Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Miliband, David Stringer, Graham
Miller, Andrew Stuart, Ms Gisela
Mitchell, Austin(Gt Grimsby) Sutcliffe, Gerry
Moffatt, Laura Taylor, Dari(Stockton S)
Mole, Chris Taylor, David(NW Leics)
Moonie, Dr. Lewis Thomas, Gareth(Clwyd W)
Moran, Margaret Thomas, Gareth(Harrow W)
Morley, Elliot Timms, Stephen
Morris, rh Estelle Tipping, Paddy
Mountford, Kali Touhig, Don(IsIwyn)
Mudie, George Trickett, Jon
Mullin, Chris Truswell, Paul
Munn, Ms Meg Turner, Dennis(Wolverh'ton SE)
Murphy, Denis(Wansbeck) Turner, Dr. Desmond(Brighton Kemptown)
Murphy, Jim(Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug Turner, Neil(Wigan)
Olner, Bill Twigg, Derek(Halton)
Organ, Diana Tynan, Bill(Hamilton S)
Osborne, Sandra(Ayr) Vis, Dr. Rudi
Owen, Albert Wareing, Robert N.
Palmer, Dr. Nick Watson, Tom(W Bromwich E)
Pickthall, Colin Watts, David
Plaskitt, James White, Brian
Pollard, Kerry Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Pond, Chris(Gravesham) Wicks, Malcolm
Prescott, rh John Wills, Michael
Primarolo, rh Dawn Winnick, David
Prosser, Gwyn Winterton, Ms Rosie(Doncaster C)
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James Woolas, Phil
Quinn, Lawrie Worthington, Tony
Rapson, Syd(Portsmouth N) Wright, Anthony D.(Gt Yarmouth)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy(Loughborough) Wyatt, Derek
Reid, rh Dr. John(Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Tellers for the Noes:
Robinson, Geoffrey(Coventry NW) Charlotte Atkins and
Mr. John Heppell

Question accordingly negatived.


then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

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