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Lord McCarthy: My Lords, it seems to me that the Minister is contradicting himself. For a large part of the time he tells us that the relevant provision is already on the face of the Bill. Apparently, the Bill provides an almost infinite number of opportunities for consultation. If that is the case, the addition of the provision that we are discussing is not the end of the world. It is part of the Bill. It is what the Bill is in favour of. The Bill is a consultation Bill until the chopper falls. That is what the amendment says. The amendment does not say—as one or two of our amendments in Committee said—that when there is an

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agreement between the parties, for example, on the application of an agreement and what it means—not a new agreement—the Government might consider the possibility of saying that the Secretary of State cannot turn it over. But we have dropped that. We are getting more moderate all the time but it does not do us any good.

What we are saying here is that there could be further consultation with the members of the body. I am bound to say that the Government will get in a terrible mess with the Bill and this group of workers when the information and consultation directive is finally enforced because they will not be able to dismiss all these matters and say that they will not consult about how workers are affected by being moved from one place to another. They will have to consult on such matters if they are to honour the directive. They might as well get used to that. We have tried to make the provision as much like the ideas of the Government, as expressed by the Minister, as possible. When particular circumstances apply, surely there could be the limitation that we propose on the use of the Bill.

I did not want to quote from the White Paper, Our Fire and Rescue Service because when we quoted from it in Committee the Minister did not like it. He gets frustrated when we do that. But the fact is that the Government are in a mess about what they are going to do with regard to pay in the Fire Service and the circumstances in which they will insist that pay is either reasonable or unreasonable and impose their order. Paragraph 7.14 of Our Fire and Rescue Service states:

    "Finally, we intend to take powers to give guidance to any negotiating body which it would have to take into account in its work. The government has a legitimate interest in the outcome of pay negotiations and the impact on public sector pay policy"—

I must say I am pleased to hear that we have a pay policy—

    "as well as the impact on the operation of the service"—

that is the works side of the thing—

    "but we should not and do not want to step into the shoes of the fire and rescue authorities as employers"—

yet they have this Bill.

    "Rather than be drawn into detailed consideration of options as negotiations develop"—

that is what we are trying to facilitate by our amendment—

    "we will set out our requirements openly before negotiations start. It will then be for the two sides to reach agreement within those limits".

I suggest that the Government are bobbing about. They do not really know whether they will specify firm limits and tell the negotiators to confine them in that way. They do not know the circumstances in which they will say, "If you do not reach agreement and say what we want you to say, we shall impose the Bill and the orders".

The more we can put on the face of the Bill ways in which the Government might consult and consult and consult again rather than impose the orders, the better it will be for industrial relations and the Government. However, we shall not convince them tonight so I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Turner of Camden moved Amendment No. 16:

    Page 2, line 7, at end insert "and

(c) should be consulted in accordance with the guidance issued for and advice on "best practice" given to fire authorities in respect of integrated risk management planning,"

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this part of the Bill deals with the use of property or facilities and says that the Secretary of State must consult persons who, in his opinion, are,

    "likely to be affected . . . or . . . represent persons who are, in his opinion, likely to be so affected".

It so happens that the Government have decided that fire authorities must produce integrated risk management plans. Those are referred to in the agreement recently signed between the fire authorities and the FBU. Those plans will include not only the provision of appropriate cover to respond to fire and other emergencies but take into account other factors such as community fire safety, which is the subject to which the provisions relate.

Guidance notes in relation to consultation have also been produced. They are intended for fire authorities—I have a copy—and are extremely comprehensive. As that guidance is available and presumably has complete government approval, there seems no reason why it should not be used in the framework of the Bill. The Secretary of State will be entitled, within the terms of the Bill, to make orders in relation to the use of property or facilities, the area covered by the guidance in respect of integrated risk management planning.

The issue was not raised in Committee, but is fresh. I would therefore welcome the Minister's comments. The amendment is intended to be helpful. I beg to move.

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: My Lords, I have had problems—I think that I mentioned them in Grand Committee—about such points. It is perfectly true that the Bill requires, especially in relation to Clause 1(1)(b) orders, a certain degree of consultation. My problem for some time has been that I genuinely do not understand the relationship of the provisions, especially that on consultation with regard to Clause 1(1)(b) orders, with other legislation. I was about to say that that legislation was going through the House, but we have heard tonight that some of it has gone through.

The three relevant pieces of legislation are the Bill, the Local Government Act, and what is about to be the civil contingencies Bill. I do not think it wrong to mention that very important Bill, as your Lordships have set up a special procedure in a committee to consider it. I take it that noble Lords who have shown an interest in this Bill will also know what is being proposed in that Bill. It was from that that we drew many of our suggestions on what might constitute an emergency in regard to Amendment No. 1, which was discussed when we last considered the Bill.

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The Local Government Act contains some discussion of the Fire Service, of course, because it repeals the previous provisions in regard to the Secretary of State's powers. As I understand it, it is primarily the relevant Act under which what is at present a consultation draft has been issued. That draft, mentioned by my noble friend, states:

    "Circumstances may arise in which the fire authority might deem it appropriate to amend the policies/standards it has set for prevention and/or intervention activities, or the provision/location of resources",

and so on. It continues:

    "You will therefore need to make arrangements to consult those who may be affected by the changes. These issues are likely to be similar in nature to one or more of those listed in Figure 1, and the guidance given there should form the basis for your decisions about the extent of consultations".

There is a direct link with this Bill, because the consultations on similar matters come under Clause 1 in a rather more vague way. The type of consultation required under the risk management plans and the consultation draft is, first, a list of matters that require consultation with:

    "Communities, business organisations, and local authorities in the area covered by the appliance",

or by the arrangements concerned, and with "Employee representatives". Those four matters are:

    "Alteration in policies and standards set by the fire authority for attendance to specific types of emergency incident; alteration in the standards and/or targets set for preventative activities to achieve improvement in community safety and/or special appliances; removal from service of pumping and/or special appliances"—

and, lastly—

    "change in crewing patterns of one or more appliances, e.g. shift crewed to day-crewed, constant crewed to variable crewed etc".

They require that extensive consultation.

There is another type of consultation required that is restricted to employee representatives. It is not about conditions of service directly—perhaps it is so incidentally. Perhaps the Minister will tell us, as he was directly involved in the Local Government Act. They are:

    "Relocation from one fire station to another of a special appliance providing cover across part or all of a brigade's area; changes in the number of personnel provided to crew appliances".

This Bill, or some Bill—the Local Government Act does not do it—should mention the relationship between all those consultations and the consultations which are, in a more vague sense, required by the Bill. It is a separate point from those made in previous amendments. It stands by itself. Critics would say that it asks for joined-up government. The amendment asks what the relationship is between the requirements under that Act and the consultation provisions in the Bill. I support my noble friend's amendment.

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