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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:

15 Mar 2004 : Column 108

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—
(a) schools;
(b) residential and nursing homes;
(c) homes in multiple occupation;
in the authorities' area.
(2) 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.
(3) 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—
(a) the installation of fire sprinkler or misting systems;
(b) alteration to means of escape;
(c) passive fire protection measures;
(d) fire and smoke alarm system.
(4) Where reports are received by the Secretary of State under subsection (3) of this Clause the Secretary of State shall consult with—
(a) the existing authorities in question;
(b) 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.
(5) 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.

15 Mar 2004 : Column 109

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-making 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 co-ordination 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 Speaker put 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
Amess, David
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Bellingham, Henry
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, Sir John
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Doughty, Sue
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Foster, Don (Bath)
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Llwyd, Elfyn
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, rh Michael
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:Hugh Robertson and Mr. Mark Francois


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burnham, Andy
Caborn, rh Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Drew, David (Stroud)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Morris, rh Estelle
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Olner, Bill
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Sio[circ]n (B'ham Erdington)
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Soley, Clive
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:Charlotte Atkins and Mr. John Heppell

Question accordingly negatived.

15 Mar 2004 : Column 112

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

15 Mar 2004 : Column 113

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