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Fire Services: Industrial Disputes

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment was made of the merits of using employment legislation to prohibit industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union on public safety grounds during the Iraq conflict in 2003. (292631)

The legal implications of the industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union were kept under review throughout the dispute, including the period before and after the start of the Iraq conflict in March 2003. As indicated by the Solicitor-General on 19 December 2002, Official Report, column 943W, the Attorney-General has the power to apply to the court for an injunction to prevent threatened breaches of the criminal law. It is the Attorney-General’s duty to keep under constant review the question whether to exercise this power.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which fire authorities in Wales have entered into contracts with private sector companies to provide fire cover in the event of industrial action. (292748)

I have been asked to reply.

Matters relating to the fire service in Wales are devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government.

The three chief fire officers in Wales have advised that none of the fire authorities in Wales have entered into contracts with private sector companies to provide fire cover in the event of industrial action.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 6 May 2009, Official Report, column 237W, on fire services: industrial disputes, for what reason (a) his Department and (b) Government Offices for the Regions do not hold copies of contingency plans prepared by fire and rescue authorities in relation to industrial action in the fire service; and whether his Department has made an assessment of the resilience and effectiveness of the fire service in the event of national industrial action by firefighters. (292986)

The preparation, updating and retention of contingency plans for industrial action in the fire and rescue service is the responsibility of fire and rescue authorities. The need to have a contingency plan in place is a requirement of the National Framework for the Fire and Rescue Service, compliance with which is assessed by the Audit Commission as part of their Comprehensive Area Assessment for the fire and rescue service.