§ Mr. R. Harris
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now received replies from the representatives of the local fire authorities whom he undertook to consult about the request made to him by the National Association of Fire Officers and the Fire Brigades Union for an independent inquiry into the fire service; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Yes. None of those consulted favours an independent inquiry into pay and other conditions of service at the present time. It is generally thought that this might undermine the established negotiating machinery of the service. The replies suggest, however, that the representatives of the fire authorities are prepared to consider the issues raised by the deputation I received from the National Association of Fire Officers and Fire Brigades Union in the general context of the needs and responsibilities of a changing service. I have informed those organisations that in these circumstances, rather than appoint an independent inquiry, I hope that direct discussions with the fire authorities will now be undertaken.