HC Deb 15 March 2004 vol 419 cc1-45 (1) The Framework referred to in section 21 as first prepared shall not have effect until an order providing that it shall have effect for the purposes of section 21 has been made by the Secretary of State. (2) Any revisions to the Framework which the Secretary of State wishes to make shall not have effect until an order providing that they shall have effect as amendments to the Framework has been made by the Secretary of State.—[Mr. Hammond.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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Mr. Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge) (Con)

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

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: new clause 3—Intervention Code

  1. The Secretary of State shall publish a Code specifying the circumstances and the manner in which:
    1. he may make an order under section 22; or
    2. he may issue a direction under any provision of this Act.
  2. The Code shall include, in particular, details of:
    1. the persons or classes of person the Secretary of State will consult before taking the action referred to in subsection (1);
    2. any other codes of conduct or agreements with any other persons or bodies to which the Secretary of State will have regard when contemplating any action referred to in subsection (1).
  3. Before publishing the Code referred to in subsection (1) the Secretary of State shall consult—
    1. all fire and rescue authorities or persons confirmed by them as representing them; and
    2. all persons or bodies recognised by any fire and rescue authority as representing any group of its employees; and
    3. any other persons he considers appropriate.

New clause 11—Setting of fire, death and arson targets and reporting on performance

  1. The Secretary of State shall for each Fire and Rescue Authority set a target for—
    1. the reduction in the number of accidental fire deaths in the home; and
    2. the reduction in the number of deliberate fires.
  2. The targets referred to in subsection (1) shall be published annually by the Secretary of State for a period of five years forward.
  3. The Secretary of State shall place before parliament at least once in every session a report specifying
    1. the targets under subsection (1)(a) and (1)(b);
    2. any changes to those targets since the previous report and the reasons for those changes;
    3. measures taken or being taken to achieve the targets set out in subsection (1)(a) and (1)(b); and
    4. the Secretary of State's assessment of progress towards achieving those targets.

Amendment No. 20, in clause 21, page 10, line 8, after 'functions', insert 'the decision on which cannot be reasonably devolved to a fire and rescue authority. Amendment No. 17, in page 10 line 9, leave out subsection (b) and insert— (b) must set out minimum standards of response to specified categories of incidents from fire and rescue authorities in connection with the discharge of their functions under sections 7, 8, 9.

Amendment No. 1, in page 10, line 30, leave out subsection (6).

Mr. Hammond

New clause 1 deals with issues surrounding the fire and rescue national framework—a detailed document, which sets out what amounts to a blueprint for the organisation, operation and management of fire and rescue services across the country. Let me give hon. Members a flavour of the document. It states: by 1 April 2004 Fire and Rescue Authorities must establish Regional Management Boards with … delegated powers that are appropriate to their aims and objectives; plans for meeting the requirements in each of the six key areas listed at paragraph 2.9 of this document; and sufficient evidence to demonstrate the capacity—both resources and expertise—to deliver those plans. In turn, regional management boards must introduce regional personnel and human resource functions … develop a regional approach to training … establish regional control rooms … and introduce regional procurement strategies. Later, the document states that Fire and Rescue Authorities, through the Regional Management Boards, must: ensure the phased transition from existing control rooms and ensure compliance with national protocols on staff roles and training"— whatever they are. In short, the framework document tells fire and rescue authorities how to organise the discharge of the functions conferred on them by the Bill. It sets out what they are and are not allowed to do, when and how they are required to devolve their functions upward to higher bodies, and the guidance that they should accept from Secretaries of State. The document even lays down detailed human resources policies and strips several functions from the democratically accountable authorities, transferring them up to the regional management board.

For the purposes of this debate, it is not necessary to argue whether having some sort of framework to deal with such matters is right or wrong. The concern that new clause 1 is designed to address is the democratic deficit—the lack of scrutiny of the framework document, which in many ways is meatier than the Bill itself. The framework is given statutory status by virtue of clause 21, and clauses 22 and 23 create a regime whereby the Secretary of State can intervene and penalise authorities if they do not comply with its requirements. The framework is extraordinarily centralising, and it will come into force without having undergone any proper parliamentary scrutiny. The Secretary of State determines what is in the framework, he issues the framework—after consultation, of course—and he can amend it at any time that he feels it is appropriate to do so.

Without making any comment at this stage about the precise content of the framework, I should explain that the purpose of new clause 1 is to subject the framework to parliamentary approval. Under the Bill as drafted, the Secretary of State has only to lay the finished document before Parliament, whereas new clause 1(1) provides that the initial framework shall have effect only once the Secretary of State has made an order by statutory instrument, giving Parliament an opportunity—albeit an inadequate one—to exercise some measure of scrutiny over what, as I have already suggested, will be by far the most important part of the collection of documents that will determine the way that our fire and rescue services operate in future: a document that will be at least of equal standing to the Bill itself.

Subsection (2) provides for similar arrangements in the case of any amendments to the framework that the Secretary of State may wish to make. Amendment No. 1 is a consequential provision that would remove from clause 21 the current provision for laying the framework before Parliament.

I hope that the Minister will be able to accede to our request for a simple measure of parliamentary scrutiny of what will be an extremely important document. If, as he repeatedly assured us in Committee, the framework will not amount to a micro-management plan for every nominally independent fire and rescue authority, he has nothing to fear from allowing parliamentarians—who represent the populations of communities throughout the country—an opportunity to consider the framework in its final form after he has completed his consultation, and to approve it so that it is incorporated in statute via the provisions of clause 21.

New clause 3 addresses a slightly different issue. It is designed to qualify the Secretary of State's power to intervene in the operation of a fire and rescue authority under the powers granted to him in clause 22. Under that clause, the Secretary of State may direct a fire and rescue authority precisely how to act or not to act if he believes that it is failing or likely to fail—not failing or likely fail to discharge its statutory functions but failing or likely to fail to comply with the national fire and rescue framework.

These are intervention powers that are over and above the sanctions under the best-value regime enshrined in the Local Government Act 1999, which also apply to fire and rescue authorities by virtue of clause 23. As drafted, these are wide-ranging powers of intervention. In our view, the ability to intervene gives the Secretary of State far too much power vis-à-vis what are supposed to be local community-based services that are delivering a service that is accountable to the local community.

New clause 3 simply requires the Secretary of State to provide some codification of the circumstances and the manner in which he will make orders under clause 22, and the circumstances and the manner in which he will issue directions under any of the many provisions allowing him to do so in a Bill that places huge powers in his hands.

Subsection (2) requires the Secretary of State to specify who he will consult. It does not require him to provide an exhaustive list of individuals or organisations. In Committee, the Minister made clear his objection to the listing approach. The subsection requires the Secretary of State instead to define the classes of persons, and critically to specify any other codes or agreements to which he will have regard before intervening.

It is no secret—I am sure the Minister will readily have divined the intention—that I have in mind the Local Government Association's code on intervention. It is a code that was agreed between the LGA and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, defining how the Secretary of State will use his intervention powers after a comprehensive performance assessment where an authority is deemed to be failing. The code includes extensive provisions on support for failing organisations, notice to be given and opportunities for authorities to rectify their deficiencies. Generally, it governs the Secretary of State's approach and ensures that intervention follows a clear scheme that everybody understands and is not arbitrary in any way. I should be grateful for assurance that the regime, which will apply to interventions under clause 23, which deals with best value, will also apply to interventions under clause 22. A loophole will otherwise be created, as the Secretary of State will invariably have the opportunity to intervene under either clause, and it is not appropriate that one intervention route is bound by the provisions of the LGA code and the other is not.

Finally, new clause 3(3) specifies the authorities and recognised organisations representing employees who must be consulted on the code before it is issued by the Secretary of State.

The new clause proposes a modest limitation on a wide power of intervention, and seeks to ensure that it is used as expected by fire and rescue authorities, is not arbitrary and does not become an alternative or loophole for avoiding established intervention procedures. If the Minister can confirm that the LGA code will be applied to any intervention under the provisions of the Bill, we will not seek to press new clause 3 further—[Interruption.] He is saying from a sedentary position that he has already done so, but that had not penetrated my consciousness. He will be glad of an opportunity to put that on record on the Floor of the House so that all local government bodies are aware of it.

New clause 11 requires that, as part of the framework arrangements, the Secretary of State set out annually, on a five-year forward basis, targets for a reduction in the number of accidental fire deaths in the home and of incidents of arson. It requires him to report to Parliament annually on progress in achieving those targets, which is not a terribly onerous burden. After all, the Government have said that reducing accidental fire deaths is the raison d'être of modernisation, so surely they will not object to putting that objective at the centre of the framework structure with clear targets that are updated regularly, thus enabling them to measure the progress of the reforms. The problem is that the Government have reduced the targets. Until last summer the target for the reduction of accidental fire deaths in the home was a cut in the average for 1994 to 1999 of 20 per cent. by March 2004. Gosh, March 2004 is now! The reduction should have been achieved already, but last summer, the Government put the date for the achievement of that important target back by six years, to March 2010. While they have been telling us that modernisation will save lives, and while fire authorities, required to reconfigure their deployments under integrated risk management plans, have closed fire stations, changed manning and crewing arrangements or, as in the case of my own constituency, removed fire appliances from fire stations, and have been busy with their integrated risk management plans, the Government have demonstrated a lack of confidence in the saving lives agenda by reducing the targets for accidental fire deaths in the home.

3.45 pm

I should like to quote from the report of the Select Committee on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published in January. With regard to downgrading, it states: we are disappointed that the Government has relaxed its target to cut down the number of deliberate fires and extended the time available to meet the targets on accidental fire-related deaths. We are concerned that Government did not consult sufficiently with relevant parties before relaxing targets. It is hardly surprising that the public are increasingly sceptical about the integrated risk management plan cuts that are beginning to filter through locally—they are certainly beginning to do so in my area—when the Government are simultaneously downgrading the very target whose fulfilment is the justification for much of the modernisation programme. The foreword to the framework document, which is signed by the Minister for Local and Regional Government, talks of a better service that saves more lives". Whether the service saves more lives depends on the base line, however, and the Government have simply moved the goalposts—[Interruption.] The Government have moved the goalposts over the past 12 months by downgrading the target for reducing accidental fire deaths in the home.

The Minister for Local and Regional Government (Mr. Nick Raynsford)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way, but he has misled the House in suggesting that a change in the actual targets—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister should perhaps rephrase his remarks. I do not think that the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) would mislead the House.

Mr. Raynsford

I am grateful, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to point out to the hon. Gentleman that we are committed to reducing fire deaths. The fact that there may be a change in the target does not in any way change the commitment to a reduction in the number of deaths, and neither does it indicate that there will be no change or reduction. A change has been made in the light of circumstances which, as he knows only too well, could not have been foreseen when the target was set. That is the result of the collapse in the scrap metal price, which we debated at length. He knows perfectly well that that is the case. Will he accept that, if a target becomes ineffective because of outside circumstances, sticking to it rather than realistically trying to ensure an appropriate response in the changed circumstances is folly? I hope that he will accept that we are doing the most sensible thing.

Mr. Hammond

The Minister referred to the reduced target for deliberate fires or arson, but he has ignored the reduced target for accidental fire deaths in the home. If he would like to explain to the House what unforeseen circumstances have made that target impossible to achieve, I would be very happy to give way to him again. The only suggestion that I have heard from him is that an increasingly elderly population has made it difficult to achieve the targets. I hardly think that that circumstance was impossible to foresee at the time when the targets were set.

I will accept what he says about the arson targets and scrap metal, although I shall have something else to say about them in a moment, but in relation to accidental fire deaths in the home, the Government have reduced the target.[Interruption.] In my book, it is a reduction in the target; other hon. Members will draw their own conclusions. The target of achieving a 20 per cent. reduction from a given base line by March 2004 has been pushed out to a target of achieving the same reduction from the same base line by March 2010. To my very simple mind, that is a reduction in the target—

Mr. Raynsford

It is an extension.

Mr. Hammond

I shall leave other hon. Members and members of the public to reach their own conclusions.

On the reduction in arson targets, as the Minister rightly says, the number of vehicles being subjected to deliberately set fires has increased dramatically, partly as a result of a collapse of the scrap metal market and the cost now involved in disposing of vehicles. What are the Government proposing to do about that, apart from downgrading the targets? They are proposing a methodology for the implementation of the EU end-of-life vehicle directive that will by general consent make the problem worse by creating an additional disincentive to the owners of old vehicles to take them to authorised dismantlers.

The Minister of State clearly disagrees, but I had lengthy debates on this in a previous incarnation with a then Industry Minister, and I would be fascinated to hear how the current proposals for implementing the directive will not lead to an increase in the number of abandoned vehicles deliberately set on fire.

Mr. Raynsford

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will explain how free disposal of end-of-life vehicles from 2007 will not have the effect that he wishes. We think it will.

Mr. Hammond

The right hon . Gentleman misrepresents what the Government are proposing. There will be a gap during which people with existing vehicles will be required to take them to an authorised dismantler, who at current scrap metal prices is likely to charge a fee.

The Government's performance on targets has been rather shabby. The dropping of the fire deaths target undermines the high moral stance that Ministers have sought to attach to the modernisation programme, and reinforces an already sceptical public in the suspicion that modernisation is a cover for some old-fashioned cuts. Frankly, that suggests to us that the setting, monitoring and performance in achievement of the targets must be watched closely. That is why new clause 11 would force the Government regularly to publish, update and explain any changes to the targets, and to give Parliament an assessment of progress in achieving them. That would allow us to measure the real impact of modernisation on these important public safety objectives.

Amendment No. 20 would limit the guidance that the Secretary of State can give in the framework—guidance allowing the Secretary of State to intervene under clause 22 if there is a failure to act in accordance with it—to areas in which decisions could not reasonably be left to fire and rescue authorities. We concur with the sentiments behind that amendment. We see a real danger that the Government's instinct to try to micro-manage from the centre will find expression through the national framework. That is one of our two principal concerns about the shape of the Bill as it stands.

Through amendment No. 17, the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) seeks to include a requirement for a specified minimum standard of response to specified categories of incident. I will be interested to hear what he intends, because it seems to us that the amendment would undermine the local discretion that the integrated risk management plan process is intended to introduce for local authorities. I will also be interested to hear what the Minister has to say on that, on the new clauses, and in particular on the Government's reduced targets.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab)

I want to speak about amendment No. 17, which I tabled specifically to allow the Minister to elaborate on some of the questions that have just been posed and thus overcome some of the arguments that have been advanced in previous debates to the effect that the exercise is simply about cuts to service. It is important to clarify exactly how the new system of integrated risk management proposals will be implemented.

We should celebrate the work that has already been done. In March, we celebrated another 5 per cent. reduction in fatalities in the past year. We should congratulate the service on that. I tabled the amendment because of the dilemma that runs not only through our debates but through the Select Committee report—a dilemma in relation to the need to ensure some consistency in standards throughout the country. The amendment gives the Minister an opportunity to negate the contention that the new system may introduce flexibility to the extent of creating a postcode lottery in local fire services' response to specific incidents.

In moving away from the traditional national minimum standards system, we need clarity about local discretion. Of course, everyone—including the fire authorities and the Fire Brigades Union—has argued that we need to tailor the modern service response to specific needs. However, there are anxieties. We need to put on record again the fact that we are not considering an overall reduction in investment in the service or a cuts exercise for any individual fire authority. We are considering a long-term, consistent pattern of investment that will improve service provision and the resources on which individual firefighters and authorities can draw.

Mr. Hammond

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that, during the industrial dispute in 2002 and early 2003, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister both said that the firefighters' pay settlement over and above inflation had to he self-financing out of the savings from modernisation? Does that not suggest that it will be difficult to achieve the objective that he has outlined?

John McDonnell

I do recall that, but I also remember the subsequent debate in which the Government identified a sum of money for transitional investment in the fire service to cover the interim period when the savings could be identified. I am confident that, if the new system is implemented properly, we can overcome the allegations that it is a cuts exercise. I seek clear reassurance, on the record, from the Minister that we are considering increasing not reducing investment.

How far will the integrated risk management plans go to establish a consistent approach throughout the country? If we are moving from minimum standards, how can we achieve consistency of approach? I would welcome the Minister's elaborating on that today so that the Government's intentions can be put on record. I would welcome in particular an outline of what happens if inconsistencies break out in individual fire authorities. What powers of intervention would the Minister have if he believed that a specific fire authority's inconsistent approach would increase risk?

I am anxious about some of the statements that have been made about local approaches, especially responses to automatic fire alarms. How will individual fire authorities identify the level of risk and therefore the appropriate response? Some fire authorities have made statements that have not helped the argument for the need for a flexible approach. For example, the firemaster, as he is called, for Lothian and the borders said: Where we get a call from an automatic detector which isn't confirmed by someone as being a fire, we intend to send out one fire engine instead of the two to four we send at the moment. There has been some suggestion that authorities will invite the general public to investigate whether a fire is associated with an automatic fire alarm. Clearly, that is unacceptable. We need clearer national guidance to ensure that such an inconsistent approach does not break out. It is estimated that there are 1.500 calls through automatic fire alarms when, although it is not confirmed, there is a fire. Clearer guidance on minimum standards would help.

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How will the integrated risk management ensure consistency? How will the Minister's national guidance and national framework ensure that we do not take a step backwards leading to increased risk or a need for more investment in local provision? What powers of intervention will he have if an inconsistent approach is shown to be putting lives at risk and reducing resources?

I should like to hear from the Minister yet again that this is not a cutting exercise, and that it involves investment and flexibility. I should also like to hear about any consultation on initiatives to measure the need for response. Will it be possible for some to be piloted, so that fire authorities can learn from others what response is most appropriate, what lessons can be learned from a change from existing minimum standards to a more flexible approach, and how mistakes can be identified and rectified. I want to hear the Minister's comments on the overall approach, so that we can reassure individual firefighters in our communities that the Bill will result in a general improvement rather than a reduction in services.

Richard Younger-Ross (Teignbridge) (LD)

Two themes ran through the Committee stage?lack of scrutiny and centralisation of power. Our amendments and those of the Conservatives tried to deal with both. I compliment the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge ( Mr. Hammond), who clearly worked hard on the amendments tabled in Committee and on those we shall discuss today. We support in principle his new clauses in this group, and some that we shall deal with later—although, as he would probably expect, I shall ask him a couple of questions about one of them.

A national framework always has potential for good and potential for bad, or for unintended consequences. The same applies to powers taken by the Secretary of State, and we want to ensure that these powers are used only to improve fire services and to increase local accountability and democracy. In Committee, the Minister would smile angelically and tell us that, of course, he had no intention of misusing the powers; they were there "just in case". If that is true, I do not think he should have too much difficulty in accepting some of the Conservative amendments, or accepting the principles enshrined in our amendments to clause 20.

New clause I confers a level of scrutiny that, in our view, is missing from the Bill. It demands a statutory instrument enabling consideration of various clauses and, in particular, amendments to the framework. I disagreed slightly with the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge when he said that a statutory instrument was the weakest of options, although I know that they are not the best way of testing the Government. I do not know whether he was implying that all these matters should be dealt with on the Floor of the House; certainly, debating all the regulations here would take up rather a lot of time. With that proviso, however, I am happy to support what he said about new clause 1.

In a sense, new clause 3 tackles the same issue that we are tackling through amendment No. 20: constraining the Secretary of State's powers by establishing codes. My only concern, which the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge probably shares, is that although we might be able to scrutinise those codes, the Minister will ultimately be able to set them as he wishes. An element of trust is involved. and I would like to go a little further, so I was pleased to hear that the hon. Gentleman supports our amendment.

I turn to new clause 11. Targets are like shifting sands: they are there one minute, and then they are not. The Minister seemed to protest a little too much about the extension of a target date. If one expects a target to end on a set date, it ought to be possible to review it to see whether a tougher one can be fixed, or whether one has gone as far as possible. Extending the target date by several years clearly stops the review process, thereby reducing one's ability to set a lower target.

Mr. Hammond

The original target defined a maximum number of fire deaths in the coming year—beginning in March 2004—that would meet the target. But because of the change, a higher number of fire deaths will still meet the target, as that figure does not have to be achieved until 2010. Is that not the problem?

Richard Younger-Ross

The hon. Gentleman makes an extremely valid point, and I need not comment further.

The targets set by the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge are somewhat broad, and we should remember that targets do get adjusted. I have been informed that the target for death by fire has been tweaked slightly to remove death resulting from arson; perhaps the Minister can confirm whether that is so. The removal of arson attacks would automatically lead to a reduction in fire deaths, because the target would have been shifted slightly. Such information will doubtless be winging its way to the Minister very shortly.

Mr. Hammond

Is not the point the use of the word "accidental"? We are talking about a target for accidental fire deaths in the home, so it does not include deaths by deliberately set fires. However, to be fair it never has.

Richard Younger-Ross

My understanding was different, but I am happy to be corrected. Targets have been adjusted slightly in other cases. My concern is that we could become too wrapped up in targets, although having a certain number is a good thing. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will explain why he chose these targets in preference to other, slightly more prescriptive ones.

Amendment No. 20 is in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Dr. Pugh). In our view, decisions should be taken at a local level where that can reasonably be done. We must have trust in fire and rescue authorities that have been democratically elected; otherwise, we will undermine them, and the fact of their election will become pointless. As a result, they will become managers rather than decision makers. We welcome the national framework in principle, but certain decisions must be taken locally. The Minister could achieve that in a number of ways, but I hope that he accepts the broad principle that the elected members of fire and rescue authorities should have decision-making powers, rather than simply managerial ones, and that he will ensure that that happens.

Mr. David Drew (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op)

I shall be brief because I took part in the Committee stage, which gave us plenty of opportunities to discuss how integrated risk management plans would function. I have just a couple of points, which relate to how Gloucestershire fire authority envisages its way forward and, more particularly, how local firefighters, through the Fire Brigades Union, are seeking to move the debate forward.

One issue is how IRMPs will fit with other aspects of evolving county and wider arrangements. In particular, we have the community safety plan in Gloucestershire, which is quite an extensive attempt by the county council to draw together different services working in the emergency field. I should be interested to know how my right hon. Friend the Minister envisages the plans working, at least in the short term. The view seems to be that where there have been pathfinder projects, services are further forward than in some other areas, such as Gloucestershire, where there has not been such an opportunity. I should be interested to hear what my right hon. Friend has to say on that. How do we move those brigades forward?

Mr. Hammond

The hon. Gentleman says that Gloucestershire has not had the opportunity of pathfinder projects, but it has pioneered the use of tri-service control facilities. How does he understand their fitting into the Government's stated agenda of reducing the number of control rooms throughout England to only nine?

Mr. Drew

We rehearsed that point in Committee, if somewhat vaguely, and I am sure that we shall come to it in the next-but-one group of amendments. We in the county of Gloucestershire have some misgivings because a fine service has evolved there, and it is good to see the three emergency services working together. It is fair to say that we are talking to our right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench about the opportunities for what that tri-service may become, but we will no doubt refer to that under the appropriate group of amendments.

To return to the immediate group, I should be interested to hear from the Minister how areas where there have not been the same opportunities for trialling and testing the new procedures can catch up, and how those procedures will fit with other proposals that have emerged through county councils and other parts of the emergency services. How will those sit together with the new set of IRMPs? Much of that is outwith the Bill's scope, because practical, detailed considerations are involved. However, the Government need to show good faith and that there is not a cuts package behind the proposals, and they need to demonstrate how they will modernise services, using the best forms of consultation to ensure that all elements are involved.

Mr. Adrian Flook (Taunton) (Con)

I take issue with the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew), who said that he had much time in Committee to make contributions on this matter. When we came to discuss clause 21, my hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) said: we need to make rapid progress to consider the next four clauses before the knife falls at 6 o'clock".—[Official Report, Standing Committee G, 24 February 2004; c. 231.] As that was at 5 o'clock, we did not have quite the necessary time to discuss the issues involved, particularly those relating to new clauses 1 and 3. The House may appreciate the brevity of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Stroud, but they could have been longer, because the Committee felt at that point that we were not scrutinising the matter closely enough.

Mr. Raynsford


Mr. Hook

The Minister may call that nonsense, but I have here the comment made in Committee on 24 February, clear as the light of day.

Mr. Raynsford

Does the hon. Gentleman recall the comments of his Front-Bench colleague at the end of the Committee about the adequacy of time for full consideration of the Bill?

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Mr. Flook

I might well be able to, if I had those comments in front of me. None the less, the point about scrutiny is as plain as the light of day at column 231.

Three fears are particularly relevant to new clause 1. The first is that the national framework is too rigid and will undermine localness. Secondly, there is a fear of gold-plating. The hon. Member for Teignbridge (Richard Younger-Ross) said that the Minister had described this as a just-in-case set-up. I can see exactly what will happen in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. It will take on board more and more responsibilities, and the document will become a gold-plated version that undermines localness. Thirdly, the entire emphasis of the national framework involves the ultimate aim of cutting costs. The Government have not been particularly open about that in the framework document, and it will be interesting to know how many respondents to the consultation process, which I believe has now finished, referred to the Government's aim of cutting costs.

The Government have said that they see the framework document as a strategic one. The Minister hides behind the fact that the Bain report called for it. I am sure that it did—it called for a lot—but I am not sure that the Government have responded to everything in that report with provisions in the Bill. The framework sets out in minute detail how fire authorities must act in a huge number of respects, including human resources, training, control rooms and procurement. It goes so far as to talk about the swapping of personnel between various authorities and even between different branches of the emergency services. It talks at some length about effectively discharging those responsibilities at regional level. In fact, the word "regional" occurs throughout the document. The Government are looking closely at making regional management boards omnipotent over a large number of fire authorities. That might easily undermine the basis for the working of, for example, Somerset fire authority. That might be the Government's aim.

There is definitely an irony here. The Minister has been keen at every twist and turn, both in the framework document and in Committee, to talk about local accountability, and I am sure that he is going to wax lyrical about it now. The irony is that Somerset county council will no doubt be able to see a nudge and a wink when they are offered. When human resources, training, control rooms and procurement are subsumed into a regional body, a cash-strapped Somerset county council will no doubt welcome the chance of a capital receipt and the chance to release the beautiful Hestercombe house on to the open market. The control room may well end up somewhere else in the south-west, whereas, if these changes were to happen in the fullness of time. it might move to the centre of Taunton, which would make far more sense for any tie-up with, say, Devon, Dorset or Cornwall.

The basis for all those changes is this large framework document, which is 49 pages long; the Bill is only 26 pages. The framework needs to he subject to much more regular scrutiny, and that is why new clause 1 is so important. I hope that Conservative Members will call for a Division on it. At the very least, we need scrutiny, and there are effective ways of carrying that out without clogging up the machinery of government. Parliamentary scrutiny is necessary. It is impossible to deliver what we need in local terms from the framework as it has been drafted.

Mr. Raynsford

New clause 1 seeks to introduce a requirement for a statutory instrument before the national framework can take effect. This requirement, unlike that in the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) in Committee, would not alter the status of the framework as guidance. I suspect that the change in the amendment reflects the point that we made in Committee that wording the framework as a statutory instrument would probably not help comprehension and implementation by those engaged in the fire service.

Our intention with the national framework is to provide a comprehensive document that will act as a "manual" for fire and rescue authorities. That is reflected by its status as guidance to which authorities must "have regard". By its nature, a national framework should provide strategic leadership—hence the inclusion of subsection (2)(a) in clause 21, stating that the fire and rescue national framework must set out clear service priorities and objectives for fire and rescue authorities". That provision is very much in accordance with the thinking not only of the Bain report, but of the Select Committee, whose first recommendation is worth repeating. Its report was very good, and I am very happy to cite its first recommendation, which says: The Committee broadly welcomes the reforms outlined in the White Paper and is hopeful that the Fire and Rescue Services Bill will bring about real reform in the Service. The Service needs strong political leadership to ensure successful implementation and management of change during a potentially very turbulent period. Government must lead by example, and must provide support at local level to ensure implementation of reform, even in the face of confrontation. That is exactly what we are doing and the framework has been produced within that remit.

Providing strategic direction is not the only purpose of the fire and rescue framework. To be effective as a manual, the framework should include guidance on all aspects of Government fire and rescue policy and reference to good practice as it develops. There is an enormous amount of good practice in the fire and rescue service; the problem is often that it is not universal. We believe that the good practice of individual fire authorities, if adopted by others, could make a real difference. Spreading good practice is fundamental.

The framework should also help to deal with the capacity support measures that the Government will provide to fire and rescue authorities, making it clear what help is available—an important matter mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew), to which I shall return. It will also help to deal with the independent performance assessment measures that the Audit Commission is implementing. I shall also say more about that later.

The hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge accused us of producing a centralising document, but I have to say that it is not. We have repealed—or are in the process of repealing—a highly centralised statutory framework dating back to the Fire Services Act 1947, which prescribed in considerable detail exactly what was required in every part of the country. In its place, we are giving greater discretion and responsibility to fire and rescue authorities to develop their own integrated risk management plans, reflecting local needs and priorities. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) rightly explained, there must be an overarching national framework to ensure that there is both coherence and consistency and that standards are not allowed to fall below acceptable levels. That is precisely the purpose of the framework.

My hon. Friend was concerned about whether there might be a fall away from decent standards as a result of changing the 1947 Act framework, and I hope to reassure him on that point. We are absolutely committed to reducing deaths, to improving the effectiveness of the fire and rescue service and to ensuring more effective prevention of fire, which is the key to reducing the number of deaths. All our measures are designed to achieve that purpose.

There is no question of a cuts package: no cuts whatever are envisaged. We are continuing to provide real grant increases to fire and rescue authorities, and we are investing heavily in new equipment for the fire and rescue service—and we are committed to carrying on doing so. That is in marked contrast to Conservative Members, who choose to criticise us opportunistically but who, significantly, did not include the fire and rescue service among those that would be exempt from the shadow Chancellor's pledge for no further growth. When we hear Conservative Members criticise us, we should remember that the Conservative party is committed to cuts in the fire service that will jeopardise the ability of fire and rescue authorities to implement the modernisation programme that we are introducing. Of course, it would be a risk only if—heaven help us—the Conservatives were elected again. I repeat my reassurance to my hon. Friend.

We have been closely monitoring and supporting the development and implementation of IRMPs through the provision of guidance and risk assessment, with support teams working directly with fire and rescue authorities, and through our role as a consultee. The Bill re-enacts the existing statutory duty for a fire and rescue authority to plan and provide arrangements for fighting fires and protecting life and property from fires within its area. Authorities will be required to secure sufficient equipment and training to discharge their duty in normal circumstances and implement effective arrangements for receiving and responding to calls for help.

The published guidance on IRMPs makes it clear that fire and rescue authorities should set their own locally determined standards, which should be expressed in easily understood terms, to measure performance on intervention and prevention. The framework will be closely monitored and will allow us to see whether we are making the progress that we are committed to making, and, if we are not, it will allow intervention to tackle any failures.

Mr. Hugo Swire (East Devon) (Con)

On prevention, will the Minister return to the points that we discussed earlier about the targets being moved? It is difficult for the layman to comprehend why the targets are being reduced. The target of achieving a 20 per cent. reduction in accidental fire deaths in homes by March 2004 has been pushed back to 2010, and the target of reducing deliberately started fires by 30 per cent. by 2009 has been cut to 10 per cent. Those reductions occur at a time when a country such as New Zealand has managed to halve such deaths in four years, so it must be possible to meet the targets. If the Bill is about prevention, why have the targets been moved?

Mr. Raynsford

If the hon. Gentleman had been following proceedings, he would know that we are discussing new clause 1 and that targets are covered by a different new clause, which I shall deal with in due course. I was responding to issues raised properly in the context of new clause 1 and intend to continue to do so.

I reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington that a working group set up by the practitioners forum is examining the issue of automatic fire alarms, which raises important considerations. We know that automated fire alarms produce a substantial number of malfunctions and that if appliances are called out to deal with a malfunctioning AFA when a real fire occurs, it could prejudice the response of the fire service to the other incident. It is therefore important to implement robust procedures to ensure that those incidents that cause genuine concern are responded to in the normal way, and that fire and rescue authority resources are not indiscriminately allocated where there is actually no risk. Finding the means to do that without creating greater risk is difficult, but it is a proper challenge that a number of fire authorities have already begun to address, and I hope that we can make considerable progress through the practitioners forum working group. My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud raised a number of issues about how the community safety plan, which draws together different services, links with IRMPs. I reassure him that IRMPs allow fire and rescue authorities to provide extra resources for prevention work, which may be undertaken by them or in partnership with other bodies. There are many examples of good practice in partnership work, which may involve engaging with teachers and others who are in a position to assist with effective fire prevention activity in particular sections of the community. We want to see continuing work of that nature and will give further guidance through the support team that I have alluded to, which is in place to help authorities establish the new arrangements introduced by IRMPs.

The fire and rescue national framework will play a significant role in driving forward the modernisation agenda, which is required to ensure that we have an effective fire and rescue service that saves more lives, and it is imperative that there are no unnecessary obstacles to delivering that agenda. The requirement for a statutory instrument to be agreed by this House before the national framework or amendments to the national framework can take effect could mean unnecessary delay and uncertainty.

Before the Bill has received its Third Reading in this House, let alone consideration by another place or Royal Assent, we are already well advanced with the first draft of the national framework, which has been out for consultation, and we hope to publish the first definitive version this spring. Thereafter, we will update the framework and, in order to help authorities with their planning processes, we intend to publish the framework in time for the start of their budget setting and business planning rounds each year. Unnecessary delay and uncertainty before the framework takes effect would be entirely unhelpful.

Furthermore, any guidance that updated policy would be issued as a revision to the framework, so that authorities and the Audit Commission were clear about our expectations. For example, we will provide guidance to ensure that medical criteria for firefighter appointment and retention are compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Under new clause 1, all such guidance would require a statutory instrument before having effect. The delay and uncertainty that would result from the requirement for a statutory instrument for each new piece of guidance would again be to the detriment of the smooth and efficient running of the service.

4.30 pm

We do not accept new clause 1, but we accept that Parliament has an important role in scrutinising decisions relating to fire and rescue policy. The Government will continue to be accountable to Parliament in the normal way. Clause 21(6) requires that we lay the plan, and any significant revisions to it, before Parliament and we have ensured in the legislation that, if the Secretary of State proposes to enforce a measure in the framework by exercising the intervention powers in clause 22, the order-making process will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. There is already a good example of how that would work in the national plan for the police. The Police Reform Act 2002 requires the Secretary of State to prepare a national policing plan, but there is no requirement for a statutory instrument before the plan takes effect. The Secretary of State must lay the plan before Parliament in the same way that would be required for the framework.

I can reassure the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge that we have included in the legislation a requirement to consult in preparing the framework, or significant revisions to it. We have consulted widely, and we will continue to do so on future revisions. Members of both Houses have had the opportunity to comment during that process. Amendment No. 1 is consequential to new clause 1 and seeks to remove the requirement to lay the framework before Parliament. However, it is absolutely appropriate that Parliament is kept informed of the contents of the framework.

Amendment No. 20 seeks to limit the priorities and objectives for fire and rescue authorities that the Secretary of State would be able to set out in the national framework to those that authorities could not "reasonably decide" for themselves. As I have already stressed, the Government have devolved much more responsibility to fire and rescue authorities. We have repealed section 19 of the 1947 Act, which required that any reduction in the number of fire appliances or firefighting posts, or the closure of any fire station, required the Secretary of State's consent.

We have also replaced the outdated national standards of fire cover with local integrated risk management planning, thereby allowing more local discretion for fire and rescue authorities to deploy their resources in line with their assessment of present local needs and risks. However, we must get the balance right. The independent review of the fire service said: successive Governments have not provided the leadership required". It also said: it is for central government to set the Fire Service's strategic priorities and to provide a clear lead on policy development". The national framework will play a crucial role in providing that leadership and driving reform and improvement in the service. That includes setting priorities and objectives where appropriate, but we will not use the national framework unnecessarily to interfere with local decisions. That would run counter to our overall programme of reform, not least to the principle of local risk management.

We see the national framework as a contract, embodying our partnership approach to reforming the service. It was first issued as a draft for consultation with plenty of time for people to comment before it became a statutory document. Clause 21(5) sets out a requirement for a full consultation process. However, the amendment would create unnecessary uncertainty about what can and cannot be "reasonably devolved" to a fire and rescue authority. That is obviously a subjective issue. The amendment would therefore inevitably lead to ambiguity and could in theory lead to expensive and time-consuming legal challenge. That is the last thing we need at a time when we are embarking on a major reform programme to deliver a better service that saves more lives.

On new clause 3, I have previously referred to the existing protocol covering the use of existing intervention powers across all local authority services that has already been agreed with local government stakeholders and published. The protocol was developed through the framework for partnership, signed in November 1997 by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister on behalf of the Government and by the chairman of the Local Government Association on behalf of local authorities. It has worked well and directions have had to be issued to local authorities on only two occasions.

The protocol provides for a sufficient evidence base before any action is taken and for the form and extent of intervention to reflect the type and seriousness of failure and the need for effective improvement. It provides that, other than in cases of urgency, there should he a process of agreement with the authority on how it will address any service failure in the first instance. It provides for the use of intervention powers only if that process fails to deliver the required improvement. It also provides for consultation with the authority concerned on any proposed directions.

In exercising the powers that we seek under clause 22 and elsewhere, we are committed, as I have already made clear, to following the principles set out in the protocol, which already covers the existing powers to intervene in fire and rescue authorities contained in the Local Government Act 1999. I do not believe that it would be sensible to produce a separate protocol for the powers in the Bill; the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge has implied as much and, in the light of my reassurances, I am sure that he will want to withdraw the proposed new clause.

Amendment No. 17, proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington, would require the national framework to set out minimum standards of response to incidents for fire and rescue authorities. I remind him that the independent review of the fire service stated: there is a compelling case to move to a risk-based approach and to do so now … it should be for fire authorities to identify the risks and the best means of handling them". Following the recommendations of the independent review, we acknowledged in our White Paper last summer that national standards of fire cover that set out the speed and weight of response to incidents are no longer appropriate and that they would be replaced by integrated risk management plans, produced by each fire and rescue authority. Each IRMP should set out the authority's own standards for both prevention and intervention purposes, based on its assessment of risk to life in the local community. All fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales have published their draft plans, are consulting their communities and work forces on their proposals and will formally adopt their IRMPs from 1 April 2004.

To require the inclusion of minimum standards of response in the framework would limit the flexibility that we intend to devolve to a local level to ensure that emergency cover and response is determined locally and provided on a risk to life, not a risk to property, basis. The inclusion of minimum standards could skew authorities' decisions on the allocation of resources.

Let me provide a few statistics from the old national fire cover standards. Between 1997 and 2001, there were 2,600 fatalities and 76,300 injuries as a result of fires in England and Wales. Throughout that period, there were recommended minimum attendance standards. Specified attendance time to industrial and commercial—A and B risk locations—was between five and eight minutes, but a breakdown of the figures shows that 80 per cent. of fatalities occurred in C and D risk locations where attendance times were between eight and 20 minutes. That makes the point that if we base the whole approach on risk to life, it is important to move away from the old property-based standards, so that the approach reflects more effectively the risk to life.

I reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington that there is no scope for local fire authorities simply to abandon the principle of action designed to save lives, but if we stuck with the old arrangements, there would equally be no scope for local fire and rescue authorities to vary the standards in the light of local circumstances to ensure a quicker and more effective response where people's lives were at risk. I am thinking particularly of night-time fires in houses containing families in residential areas where, under the old standards, the response requirement would have been slower than that for empty commercial property in a city centre. Such an arrangement cannot be right. The focus must be on threat to life and I hope that the IRMPs will allow a more sensitive implementation of what we are all committed to: measures to safeguard lives.

New clause 11 would require the Secretary of State to set targets for each fire and rescue authority in relation to the reduction of accidental fire deaths in the home and of deliberate fires, and to report to Parliament on progress in each Session. I am intrigued that the Opposition have moved that provision, as during most of our debates, not only on this Bill but on the Local Government Act 2003, they constantly attacked the Government for what they described as the unnecessary proliferation of centrally set performance targets. However, when it suits them politically, they are only too happy to try to impose targets.

We remain absolutely committed to new national targets, which were announced in the fire White Paper, for the reduction of accidental fire deaths in the home and for the reduction of deliberate fires. As before, progress will be reported in the ODPM annual report, which is deposited in the Library. I should make it clear that there is no question of reducing the targets. We are committed to real reductions in the number of lives lost and the number of non-accidental fires. However, we recognise that since the targets were first set, changes in circumstance and a greater understanding of context have made it impossible for the original aspirational targets—that is what they were—to be achieved realistically. We need targets that can be delivered, rather than notional targets that would generate disappointment if they could not be met.

Mr. Swire

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Raynsford

No. The hon. Gentleman asked me about this earlier. I noted his comments and I am now responding to them, so I hope that he will listen.

I completely reject any implication that the present targets are insufficiently challenging. If we were to take no action, we could expect an additional 200 accidental fire deaths over the period up to 2010. Instead, the target on accidental fire deaths commits us to saving more than 1,000 lives throughout that period. I am pleased to say that we are making good progress because accidental fire deaths in the home are at an all-time low of 292 for England and Wales. I wholly reject the completely incorrect assumption put forward by the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge that, as a result of changes to the targets, there will be more deaths and more deliberate fires than would otherwise occur. That is not the case because the numbers are reducing. We are committed to reducing them and we are committed to saving lives, but we are also committed to realism, rather than to targets that are simply not achievable for a variety of reasons.

Mr. Hammond

The Minister cites the number of lives that his target will apparently save. Will he tell the House how many additional lives would already have been saved if the original date for achieving the target of March 2004 had been adhered to?

Mr. Raynsford

As I have just told the hon. Gentleman, the latest figures show that we have made significant progress yet again on reducing the number of lives lost. I am surprised that he does not welcome the fact that accidental fire deaths in the home resulted in only 292 losses of life in 2002–03—the lowest level on record. We are reducing the number of lives lost. If people set an unrealistic target, they could in theory claim to be capable of achieving more. However, the original target was not achievable. We realised that, so we set a realistic and extremely challenging target for reducing the number of fire deaths.

Mr. Swire

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Raynsford

No, I have given way to the hon. Gentleman already and I need to make progress.

Mr. Swire


Mr. Raynsford

I have given way to the hon. Gentleman and answered his question. I am sorry that he is not in a mood to listen.

We are absolutely committed to reducing deaths, injuries and unnecessary fires. That requires real commitment and continued investment, and it ill behoves Conservative Members to try to make cheap points when we know that their spending commitments would not protect the fire service. The service would thus be starved of funds and unable to achieve the commitments towards which we are working. We are hearing a lot of synthetic and unconvincing rhetoric from the Conservative party on the matter.

Clause 21(2)(a) will require the Secretary of State to set out priorities and objectives for fire and rescue authorities in the national framework. The national targets on accidental fire deaths and deliberate fires are already in the first paragraph of the draft framework. The performance of fire and rescue authorities will be assessed by the Audit Commission, and the performance expectations set out in the national framework, which includes an explicit reference to the national targets, will be a key yardstick for the Audit Commission when assessing performance. I therefore ask the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge to withdraw the motion.

Mr. Hammond

May I first deal with the Minister's remarks on new clauses 3 and 11? Let us get the pleasantries out of the way. On new clause 3, I am grateful to him for confirming that the Local Government Association code will apply to section 23 interventions. I know that many people outside the Chamber who were not entirely sure about the situation will be grateful that he has put his clarification on record.

Any discussion of targets seems to evoke a strange response from this usually mild-mannered and reasonable Minister because he goes berserk whenever we draw attention to the targets that were set as part of the public service agreement several years ago. The targets were set by his Government, not by us, someone from outside or civil servants. I hope that he will not try to tell us that that was not the case. He now tells us that those targets were unachievable and unrealistic. I wonder what the Treasury thinks about being told that the targets, which were offered in exchange for Treasury funding in a previous spending review, are unachievable and unrealistic. The Minister does not have a leg to stand on. One moment he tells us that he has not relaxed the targets for accidental fire deaths, but a moment later he tells us that he has and is justified in doing so because unforeseen circumstances have intervened.

4.45 pm
Mr. Raynsford

What targets for reducing fire deaths is the hon. Gentleman's party committed to and what discussions has he held with his shadow Treasury colleagues on the resources necessary to deliver them?

Mr. Hammond

We are in a situation in which the Government have set targets in the national framework that are lower than those agreed in a previous public service agreement. We are trying to ensure that the Government are held to account for future changes that they are minded to make to the targets set out in the national framework in the way that they made changes to the existing targets last summer.

Mr. Swire

Perhaps my hon. Friend can give me the answer that the Minister was clearly unwilling to do. We learned from the Minister that the original targets were aspirational. In that case, why was New Zealand able to halve the number of accidental fire deaths in its homes over four years? The Government's extension must be a de facto reduction in targets.

Mr. Hammond

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the New Zealand example. That country has been much quoted over the past 18 months in relation to fire, and for good reasons. Many people outside and inside the House might think that the Government, as a natural corollary of their modernisation programme, based as it is around redirecting resources to save lives, would not want to relax the targets for reducing accidental fire deaths, but to tighten them so that they are tougher and more demanding. The purpose of new clause 11 is not to change the targets, but to ensure proper scrutiny of them so that the Government cannot do what they did last summer and simply sneak in a reduced and relaxed target.

The hon. Member for Teignbridge (Richard Younger-Ross) asked why I selected those two targets. It was because they are the two targets that the Government set out in the fire and rescue draft national framework. Although reduced, they are the same targets qualitatively as the two targets included in the previous public service agreement.

The debate on new clause 11 has been useful. Members of the public and Members of the House will draw their own conclusions on what is or is not a reduced target. Members of the public and the media are used to looking carefully at the spin that the Government put on any numbers, figures or targets.

The Minister addressed several of the detailed points raised on new clause 1, but he did not address the principal concern. The national framework is above all a strategic framework for the delivery of fire services. It is right and proper that such a framework should be fully scrutinised by Parliament. It is simply not good enough that Parliament will be kept informed, as he put it, as the framework evolves and is eventually introduced and modified. Parliament needs scrutiny and control of the process. His protestation that a negative resolution would be too time-consuming and in some way too costly for such an important measure, which is key to the modernisation of our fire and rescue services, is unacceptable. The Government have not made a case for rejecting new clause 1.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 156, Noes 254.

Division No. 86] [4:50 PM
Allan, Richard Conway, Derek
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Curry, rh David
Bacon, Richard Davies, Quentin(Grantham &
Baker. Norman Stamford)
Baldry, Tony Davis, rh David(Haltemprice &
Barker, Gregory Howden)
Baron, John(Billericay) Djanogly, Jonathan
Bellingham, Henry Duncan, Alan(Rutland)
Beresford, Sir Paul Fallon, Michael
Bottomley, Peter(Worthing W) Field, Mark(Cities of London &
Brady, Graham Westminster)
Brazier, Julian Flight, Howard
Breed, Colin Flook, Adrian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L. Forth, rh Eric
Browning, Mrs Angela Foster, Don(Bath)
Burnett, John Fox, Dr. Liam
Burns, Simon Gale, Roger(N Thanet)
Burstow, Paul Gamier, Edward
Burt, Alistair Gibb, Nick(Bognor Regis)
Butterfill, Sir John Gidley, Sandra
Cameron, David Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies(NE
Fife) Goodman, Paul
Cash, William Gray, James(N Wilts)
Chapman, Sir Sydney(Chipping Green, Damian(Ashford)
Barnet) Green, Matthew(Ludlow)
Chope, Christopher Greenway, John
Clarke, rh Kenneth(Rushcliffe) Grieve, Dominic
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Gummer, rh John
Collins, Tim Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr. Evan(Oxford W & Price, Adam(E Carmarthen &
Abingdon) Dinefwr)
Harvey, Nick Prisk, Mark(Hertford)
Hawkins, Nick Randall, John
Heald, Oliver Redwood, rh John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David Rendel, David
Hendry, Charles Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Hoban, Mark(Fareham) Roe, Mrs Marion
Holmes, Paul Rosindell, Andrew
Horam, John(Orpington) Ruffley, David
Howard, rh Michael Russell, Bob(Colchester)
Howarth, Gerald(Aldershot) Sanders, Adrian
Hughes, Simon(Southwark N) Selous, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael Shepherd, Richard
Jackson, Robert(Wantage) Simpson, Keith(M-Norfolk)
Jenkin, Bernard Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Johnson, Boris(Henley) Spicer, Sir Michael
Key, Robert(Salisbury) Spink, Bob(Castle Point)
Knight, rh Greg(E Yorkshire) Spring, Richard
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Stanley, rh Sir John
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Steen, Anthony
Lamb, Norman Streeter, Gary
Lansley, Andrew Swayne, Desmond
Laws, David(Yeovil) Swire, Hugo(E Devon)
Leigh, Edward Syms, Robert
Letwin, rh Oliver Tapsell, Sir Peter
Lewis, Dr. Julian(New Forest E) Taylor, Ian(Esher)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian Taylor, John(Solihull)
Lidington, David Taylor, Matthew(Truro)
Llwyd, Elfyn Taylor, Sir Teddy
Luff, Peter(M-Worcs) Teather, Sarah
McIntosh, Miss Anne Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Mackay, rh Andrew Turner, Andrew(Isle of Wight)
Maclean, rh David Tyler, Paul(N Cornwall)
McLoughlin, Patrick Tyrie, Andrew
Maples, John Viggers, Peter
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian Walter, Robert
May, Mrs Theresa Waterson, Nigel
Mercer, Patrick Watkinson, Angela
Mitchell, Andrew(Sutton Webb, Steve(Northavon)
Coldfield) Whittingdale, John
Moore, Michael Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Moss, Malcolm Wiggin, Bill
Murrison, Dr. Andrew Willetts, David
Oaten, Mark(Winchester) Willis, Phil
O'Brien, Stephen(Eddisbury) Wilshire, David
O'Hara, Edward Winterton, Ann(Congleton)
Öpik, Lembit Yeo, Tim(S Suffolk)
Osborne, George(Tatton) Young, rh Sir George
Ottaway, Richard Younger-Ross, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James Tellers for the Ayes:
Pickles, Eric Mr. Mark Francois and
Portillo, rh Michael Hugh Robertson
Abbott, Ms Diane Borrow, David
Ainger, Nick Bradley, rh Keith(Withington)
Ainsworth, Bob(Cov'try NE) Brennan, Kevin
Alexander, Douglas Brown, rh Nicholas(Newcastle E
Allen, Graham Wallsend)
Anderson, rh Donald(Swansea E) Brown, Russell(Dumfries)
Atherton, Ms Candy Browne. Desmond
Atkins, Charlotte Bryant, Chris
Austin, John Buck, Ms Karen
Baird, Vera Burnham, Andy
Banks, Tony Byers, rh Stephen
Barnes, Harry Cairns, David
Battle, John Campbell, Alan(Tynemouth)
Beard, Nigel Campbell, Mrs Anne(C'bridge)
Bennett. Andrew Campbell, Ronnie(Blyth V)
Best, Harold Caplin, Ivor
Betts, Clive Casale, Roger
Blackman, Liz Caton, Martin
Blizzard, Bob Cawsey, Ian(Brigg)
Chapman, Ben(Wirral S) Hill, Keith(Streatham)
Chaytor, David Hinchliffe, David
Clark, Mrs Helen(Peterborough) Hodge, Margaret
Clark, Dr. Lynda(Edinburgh Hoey, Kate(Vauxhall)
Pentlands) Hope, Phil(Corby)
Clark, Paul(Gillingham) Hopkins, Kelvin
Clarke, rh Tom(Coatbridge & Howarth, George(Knowsley N &
Chryston) Sefton F)
Clelland, David Howells, Dr. Kim
Coaker, Vernon Humble, Mrs Joan
Coffey, Ms Ann Hurst, Alan(Braintree)
Coleman, lain Hutton, rh John
Colman, Tony Iddon, Dr. Brian
Connarty, Michael Illsley, Eric
Cooper, Yvette Ingram, rh Adam
Corston, Jean Irranca-Davies, Huw
Cousins, Jim Jackson, Glenda(Hampstead &
Cox, Tom(Tooting) Highgate)
Crausby, David Jackson, Helen(Hillsborough)
Cruddas, Jon Jamieson, David
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack Jenkins, Brian
(Copeland) Johnson, Alan(Hull W)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S) Johnson, Miss Melanie(Welwyn
Cunningham, Tony(Workington) Hatfield)
Darling, rh Alistair Jones, Helen(Warrington N)
Davey, Valerie(Bristol W) Jones, Kevan(N Durham)
David, Wayne Kaufman, rh Gerald
Davies, rh Denzil(Llanelli) Keeble, Ms Sally
Dawson, Hilton Kelly, Ruth(Bolton W)
Dean, Mrs Janet Khabra, Piara S.
Denham, rh John Kidney, David
Dhanda, Parmjit King, Andy(Rugby)
Dismore, Andrew King, Ms Oona(Bethnal Green &
Dobbin, Jim(Heywood) Bow)
Dobson, rh Frank Knight Jim(S Dorset)
Donohoe, Brian H. Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Doran, Frank Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Dowd, Jim(Lewisham W) Lammy, David
Drew, David(Stroud) Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Laxton, Bob(Derby N)
Eagle, Maria(L'pool Garston) Lazarowicz, Mark
Efford, Clive Lepper, David
Ellman, Mrs Louise Leslie, Christopher
Ennis, Jeff(Barnsley E) Levitt, Tom(High Peak)
Etherington, Bill Linton, Martin
Farrelly, Paul Love, Andrew
Field, rh Frank(Birkenhead) Lucas, Ian(Wrexham)
Fisher, Mark McCabe, Stephen
Fitzpatrick, Jim McDonagh, Siobhain
Follett, Barbara McDonnell, John
Foster, Michael(Worcester) McFall, John
Foster, Michael Jabez(Hastings Mclsaac, Shona
& Rye) McKenna, Rosemary
Foulkes, rh George Mackinlay, Andrew
Francis, Dr. Hywel McNulty, Tony
Gardiner, Barry Mactaggart, Fiona
Gerrard, Neil McWalter, Tony
Gibson, Dr. Ian McWilliam, John
Gilroy, Linda Mahon, Mrs Alice
Godsiff, Roger Mann, John(Bassetlaw)
Goggins, Paul Marris, Rob(Wolverh'ton SW)
Griffiths, Jane(Reading E) Marsden, Gordon(Blackpool S)
Griffiths, Nigel(Edinburgh S) Marshall, David(Glasgow
Griffiths, Win(Bridgend) Shettleston)
Grogan, John Marshall, Jim(Leicester S)
Hall, Mike(Weaver Vale) Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Hall, Patrick(Bedford) Martlew, Eric
Hanson, David Merron, Gillian
Havard, Dai(Merthyr Tydfil & Michael, rh Alun
Rhymney) Miliband, David
Healey, John Miller, Andrew
Henderson, Ivan(Harwich) Moffatt, Laura
Hepburn, Stephen Mole, Chris
Heppell, John Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Hesford, Stephen Moran, Margaret
Heyes, David Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George Smith, rh Chris(Islington S &
Mullin, Chris Finsbury)
Murphy, Denis(Wansbeck) Smith, Geraldine(Morecambe &
Murphy, Jim(Eastwood) Lunesdale)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug Smith, Jacqui(Redditch)
O'Hara, Edward Soley, Clive
Olner, Bill Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Organ, Diana Steinberg, Gerry
Osborne, Sandra(Ayr) Stewart, David(Inverness E &
Palmer, Dr. Nick Lochaber)
Pickthall, Colin Stinchcombe, Paul
Plaskitt, James Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Pollard, Kerry Sutcliffe, Gerry
Pond, Chris(Gravesham) Taylor, Dan(Stockton S)
Pope, Greg(Hyndburn) Taylor, David(NW Leics)
Prentice, Ms Bridget(Lewisham Thomas, Gareth(Clwyd W)
E) Tipping, Paddy
Prosser, Gwyn Touhig, Don(IsIwyn)
Purnell, James Trickett, Jon
Quinn, Lawrie Truswell, Paul
Rammell, Bill Turner, Dr. Desmond(Brighton
Rapson, Syd(Portsmouth N) Kemptown)
Raynsford, rh Nick Turner, Neil(Wigan)
Reid, rh Dr. John(Hamilton N & Twigg, Stephen(Enfield)
Bellshill) Tynan, Bill(Hamilton S)
Robinson, Geoffrey(Coventry Vaz, Keith(Leicester E)
NW) Vis, Dr. Rudi
Roche, Mrs Barbara Wareing, Robert N.
Rooney, Terry Watson, Tom(W Bromwich E)
Roy, Frank(Motherwell) Watts, David
Ruance, Chris White, Brain
Russell, Ms Christine(City of Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Chester Wicks, Malcolm
Rayan, Joan(Enfield N) Winnick, David
Salter, Martin Winterton, Ms Rosie(Doncaster
Salter, Martin C)
Sawford, Phil Woolas, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian Worthington, Tony
Shaw, Jonathan Wright, Anthony D.(Gt
Sheerman, Barry Yarmouth)
Short, rh Clare Wyatt, Derek
Simon, Siôn(B'ham Erdington)  
Simpson, Alan(Nottingham S) Tellers for the Noes:
Skinner, Dennis Mr. Fraser Kemp and
Smith, rh Andrew(Oxford E) Derek Twigg

Question accordingly negatived.

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