§ Mr. Gregory
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what expenditure will be incurred (a) nationally and (b) on average per fire authority through the United Kingdom's participation in the World Administrative Radio Conference; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Mellor
As a result of the decisions of the world administrative radio conference in 1979, the frequencies currently used by the police and fire services for mobile communications have with effect from the end of 1989 been re-allocated to VHF sound broadcasting. The estimated purchase cost of the principal replacement items of fixed and mobile equipment to enable fire brigades within the Home Office wireless rental scheme to operate in the frequency bands is estimated at about £4 million. In addition, there will be expenditure on ancillary items which are currently being specified.
Each brigade within the Home Office scheme has been provided with a handbook detailing the equipment to be procured, individual budgetary rental estimates and estimates of installation and maintenance charges. The average increase in rental costs for fire authorities, assuming all existing equipment is replaced, is 30 per cent.
Much of the equipment at present in use is coming to the end of, and has in some cases already exceeded its planned operating life, and would in any event have to be replaced at currently prevailing prices.