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7 Nov 2002 : Column 601W—continued

EU Equal Treatment Directive

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, when he intends to publish draft regulations and draft consolidated legislation on the age strand of the consultation Equality and Diversity: The Way Ahead with a view to implementing the EU Equal Treatment Directive; and if he will make a statement. [79411]

Alan Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

Unfortunately I have not been able to glean the information necessary to answer before Parliament is prorogued, but I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of the letter in the Libraries of the House.

The process for appointing the Board Members is run according to the Code of Practice issued by the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments (OCPA).

Appointments are made on merit, following open competition, application and formal interviews. Each applicant is assessed against the selection criteria, as set out in the person specification for the post.

A Board Member can be dismissed by the Secretary of State for Trade & Industry if he or she is in breach of conditions in Schedule 2 of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998.

Current pay rates per annum are, Chair #47,800, Deputy Chair #15,208 and Board Members #7,604. All Members are eligible to claim Travel & Subsistence.

Board Members are paid from the DTI vote approved by Parliament, via the RDA single programme, which is administered by DTI.

Mayoral Elections

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much has been spent by (a) his Department, (b) local councils and (c) other bodies on mayoral elections and referenda since January 2001. [78630]

Mr. Raynsford: Departmental costs on mayoral elections and referendums are not separately identified from costs related to work on new council constitutions generally. Information on expenditure by local authorities or other bodies on these matters is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Pathfinders Housing Allowance

Mr. Stephen O Brien: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, if he will list those constituencies in which Pathfinder for Housing Allowance is being made available. [77549]

Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply.

On 21 October, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State wrote to the hon. Members whose constituencies cover those local authorities which we have invited to be pathfinders for the standard local housing allowance.

The table lists the pathfinder authorities, along with the parliamentary constituencies which fall wholly or partially within those authority boundaries.

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Local AuthorityParliamentary Constituency
Brighton & Hove City CouncilKemptown
Brighton Pavilion
Hove
City of EdinburghEdinburgh East and Musselburgh
Edinburgh West
Edinburgh North and Leith
Edinburgh Pentlands
Edinburgh South
Edinburgh Central
Livingston
Midlothian
County Borough of ConwyMeirionnyddnant Conway
Conwy
Clwyd West
Coventry City CouncilCoventry North East
Coventry North West
Coventry South
Leeds City CouncilElmet
Leeds Central
Leeds East
Leeds North East
Leeds North West
Leeds West
Morley & Rothwell
Pudsey
London Borough of LewishamLewisham Deptford
Lewisham East
Lewisham West
Middlesbrough CouncilMiddlesbrough
Middlesbrough South and East
Cleveland
North East LincolnshireCleethorpes
Great Grimsby
Teignbridge District CouncilTeignbridge
Totnes
Tendring District CouncilEssex North
Harwich

Firefighters' Strike

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he has contingency plans to allow the Armed Forces access to standard fire service fire engines during Fire Service strikes. [77024]

Mr. Raynsford: We are currently reviewing the availability of all appliances that could be deployed in the event of a strike by firefighters.

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he has taken to provide for emergency cover in the event of floods during any strike by fire brigade personnel. [77793]

Mr. Raynsford: The role played by the Fire Service in relation to flooding is to assist with rescue and to pump water from flooded properties. In the event of industrial action, the military response will be primarily directed towards saving life. It is therefore important that local authorities should ensure they are up to date with names of contractors and equipment suppliers who could be called upon to assist during a flooding event. They should also formulate plans to arrange early evacuation if severe flooding is forecast.

The Environment Agency's flood warning systems will continue to operate as normal. The Agency has also reviewed its emergency plans, in close liaison with local authorities and the police. The Agency will seek to assist the emergency services and local authorities as far as practicable by mobilising their resources including pumps and equipment, once it has ensured that its own systems and defences are secure.

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Mr. Laws: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what his estimate is of the number of fire fighting emergency vehicles which will be available in Somerset in the event of a firefighters strike; how many are available in a non-strike situation; and if he will make a statement; [77002]

Mr. Raynsford: Emergency cover in Somerset is currently planned to consist of a number of elements including five Green Goddesses, three breathing apparatus teams (BARTs), rescue teams equipped with specialist equipment, (RESTs) and the police. The Somerset Fire Brigade has 48 pumping appliances, although not all these will be operational at any one time. Two Green Goddesses and a BART will be based at RNAS Yeovilton, 2 Green Goddesses, a BART and a REST will be based at Taunton. 1 Green Goddess and 1 BART will be based at Bridgewater.

The provision of Ministry of Defence emergency fire cover has been planned in consultation with the Chief Fire Officer to minimise call-out response times and maximise the availability of a range of firefighting capabilities.

The command and operational structure for emergency fire cover has been designed to enable maximum flexibility and use of available resources, whether from within a county or from assets deployed nearby in neighbouring counties. The deployment of firefighters will be based on the assessment of how best to respond to an emergency in the quickest time possible. The deployment will be kept under review.

The target attendance times for Fire Brigade appliances vary according to the location of the reported incident, ranging from five minutes in busy high risk city centres to twenty minutes in rural areas. In the event of a firefighters strike it is not expected that military emergency cover would be able to match these attendance times in all cases. In providing emergency fire cover the Ministry of Defence would not be seeking to replicate the current fire fighting capability. The Armed Forces role during any strike will be to ensure

7 Nov 2002 : Column 604W

that essential services are maintained by providing emergency cover and, by so doing, minimise the risk to life.

The Leader of Somerset Council wrote to the Deputy Prime Minster on 4 and 25 October. My reply, which I have copied to local MPs, reflects what I have said above about the provision of emergency cover by the Ministry of Defence.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what preparations he has made to ensure the safety and continuity of service to the public in Cambridgeshire in the event of a firefighters' strike; and what the cost is to the Department of these actions. [79566]

Mr. Raynsford: Emergency cover in Cambridgeshire is currently planned to consist of seven Green Goddesses, three breathing apparatus teams (BARTs), a rescue team equipped with specialist equipment, (a REST) and the police. The Green Goddesses and BARTs will be based at Peterborough, Huntingdon and Cambridge. The REST will be based at Cambridge.

The provision of Ministry of Defence emergency fire cover has been planned in consultation with the Chief Fire Officer to minimise call-out response times and maximise the availability of a range of firefighting capabilities.

The command and operational structure for emergency fire cover has been designed to enable maximum flexibility and use of available resources, whether from within a county or from assets deployed nearby in neighbouring counties. The deployment of firefighters will be based on the assessment of how best to respond to an emergency in the quickest time possible. The deployment will be kept under review.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will meet the additional costs incurred by the Ministry of Defence in providing emergency fire cover in England and Wales, net of savings in wages lost by striking firefighters. But it is very difficult to predict exactly what the cost will be. It will depend very much on what strike action the Fire Brigades Union actually takes.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) when the Independent Review Commission looking at firefighters' pay is expected to report; and if he will make a statement; [80238]

Mr. Raynsford: The Independent Review of the Fire Service is being conducted by Professor Sir George Bain, who has an outstanding record in industrial relations and academia. He is being assisted by Sir Anthony Young, past President of the TUC, and Sir Michael Lyons, who until recently was the Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council. The membership of the Independent Review team has not changed since it was announced in early September. Sir George hopes to be able to publish the final report in December.

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