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Fire and Rescue Services

Volume 602: debated on Monday 9 November 2015

The spending review will set out the resources that are available to local government as a whole, and the allocations for each authority will be published in the provisional local government financial settlement later this year.

Northumberland fire and rescue service made proposals last week further to cut front-line services, which will undoubtedly compromise public safety and the safety of people in the brigade. Can the Secretary of State explain how it is in the best interests of the general public for fire and rescue service budgets to be slashed and slashed to the bone?

The hon. Gentleman gets it wrong. The National Audit Office recently published a report stating that, financially, fire and rescue authorities have coped well with the reductions. We know that there has been a 42% decrease in incidents over the past 10 years, and it is right that all parts of the public sector make savings. As it happens, the fire and rescue authorities have made savings of less than the rest of local government.

I welcome the consultation on proposals for greater integration and collaboration between police and fire and rescue services. Will the Minister confirm that that will not mean the end of the distinction between firefighters and police officers?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I read the transcript of the debate that she secured in Westminster Hall. It is right to consider where collaboration can improve safety, which was one of the points that she raised in the debate, but there is absolutely no requirement to eradicate the separate services that our communities so value.