HC Deb 16 April 1991 vol 189 cc132-3W
Sir John Wheeler

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Government have for the Fire Service College.

Mr. John Patten

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has decided that the Fire Service College should become a candidate for executive agency status under the Government's "Next Steps" initiative. The projected launch date is 1 April 1992.

The college, established under the Fire Services Act 1947, is the principal provider of training to officers in local authority fire brigades. It provides technical training in firefighting and fire safety and courses on command and management for all grades of fire officer. It also trains students from the private sector and from overseas. The recent introduction of direct charging of brigades commensurate with their use of the college's facilities enables the college to be more responsive to the individual needs of its customers. Executive agency status will provide the college with the flexibility and control necessary to deliver high-quality training more cost-effectively and responsively.

My right hon. Friend fully appreciates the close interest taken by the local authorities and the fire service in maintaining high professional standards through training at the college and there will be full discussions with the constituent members of the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council and other interested parties over the coming months.