Explanatory Notes

Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012

2012 asp 8

7 August 2012

The Act – Section by Section

Part 2 – Fire Reform

Section 101 – the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

107.Section 101 introduces a new section 1A into the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) to provide for the establishment of a new statutory body corporate, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) or, in Gaelic, Seirbheis Smàlaidh agus Teasairginn na h-Alba to replace the current 2 unitary authorities and 6 joint fire and rescue boards which are abolished by Part 2 of schedule 8 to the Act. SFRS has the functions conferred on it by the 2005 Act, as amended by this Act and other legislation, and the functions conferred on it by any other enactment.

108.Section 101 also inserts schedule 1A into the 2005 Act, which sets out the SFRS’s governance and finance arrangements, general powers and accounting requirements. Paragraph 1 of schedule 1A provides that SFRS is independent from the Crown. Paragraph 2 provides that SFRS will consist of a chairing member and between 10 and 14 other members, although the maximum and minimum number of members can be varied by the Scottish Ministers through secondary legislation subject to negative procedure in the Scottish Parliament. Members of SFRS will be appointed by the Scottish Ministers on the basis of relevant skills and expertise to govern the fire and rescue service. Members of SFRS may elect a member to act as Deputy Chair. The schedule sets out that members are appointed for a maximum period of 4 years on terms and conditions determined by the Scottish Ministers (paragraph 4); that Ministers can remove members in certain circumstances (paragraph 5); and provides a list of people disqualified from membership of SFRS (paragraph 3). The list of persons disqualified from membership may be modified by the Scottish Ministers through secondary legislation, subject to the negative procedure. Paragraph 6 provides for the payment of remuneration, allowances and expenses to members as may be determined by the Scottish Ministers.

109.Paragraph 7 requires SFRS to employ a Chief Officer and paragraph 8 provides that SFRS may employ other staff. The first Chief Officer is to be appointed by the Scottish Ministers with subsequent appointments made by SFRS subject to the agreement of the Scottish Ministers.

110.Paragraphs 9 – 10 set out the rules regarding the establishment of committees and procedure of SFRS.

111.Paragraph 11 places a duty on the SFRS (including its committees and sub-committees) to meet in public and to publish agendas, papers and reports of its proceedings. Sub-paragraphs (2) and (4) give discretion to the SFRS to decide not to do so, and sub-paragraph (5) obliges it to publish a statement setting out the circumstances in which it will exercise that discretion.

112.Paragraph 12 imposes an obligation on SFRS members to try to act consistently with the principles of good governance and in an accountable and transparent manner, when acting in their capacity as members. Paragraph 13 sets out SFRS’s general powers and allows SFRS to do anything it considers appropriate for carrying out its functions. This includes specific power to: enter into contracts; borrow money; acquire and dispose of land and other property; accept gifts of money and gifts or loans of other property; form or promote companies; and compulsorily purchase land. The power to borrow money, form or promote companies and to purchase land compulsorily is subject to Ministerial consent, and in relation to borrowing money and forming or promoting companies the Scottish Ministers can set any conditions they consider appropriate, and their agreement can be given in relation to a particular case or class of case. Paragraph 14 makes provision for the delegation of functions to the Chief Officer and other SFRS staff and any committees established by SFRS although the SFRS will still retain responsibility for the performance of those functions and remain able to perform them. Paragraph 15 requires the Scottish Ministers’ approval for the location of the administrative headquarters used by SFRS board members and the Chief Officer. Paragraph 16 allows the Scottish Ministers to provide grants to SFRS. Paragraph 17 makes provision for the preparation and submission of accounts and arrangements for audit. It places a duty on SFRS to keep proper accounts and records in relation to the accounts, and to prepare a statement of accounts for each financial year as soon as possible after the 31 March. The Scottish Ministers have a power to direct the form and content of that statement of accounts, as well as the accounting methods and principles to be applied. SFRS must send a copy of the statement of accounts to the Auditor General for auditing.