At the start of this week, The Independent reported:
The Government will be pressed by … to publish a heavily contentious report into overhauling the pay and conditions of firefighters.
Baroness Bakewell*, a Liberal Democrat peer, will ask the Government why the Thomas Review has not been made public nearly a year after it was completed. She compared the delay to John Chilcot’s long-awaited final report into the Iraq War, which is now expected this year.
Some opposition politicians suspect the Thomas Review has not been published because it has not come to the conclusions that the Government had either anticipated or wanted.
I think it’s fair to describe the answer Cathy Bakewell received as stonewalling:
Asked by Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville: To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the Thomas review into conditions of service for operational staff in the fire and rescue service in England will be published; and whether they will provide an update on the progress of that report.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, the Government are looking at the detail of the review’s findings and will publish it in due course in the light of the proposed governance changes for the fire and rescue services resulting from our consultation, Enabling Closer Working Between the Emergency Services.
Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville (LD): My Lords, I thank the Minister for her response. I hope that the transfer of fire and rescue services to the Home Office may bring about some urgency in the publication of this important document and that the new Minister will set out a timetable for publication of the review before the anniversary of the original deadline for the submission of the report to government, which was in February 2015. The delay in publication is causing unnecessary problems in forward planning. Will the Minister agree to meet me and the chairman of the LGA’s fire services management committee as soon as possible to discuss this important matter?
Baroness Williams of Trafford: I am certainly very happy to meet the noble Baroness, but she may like to meet my noble friend Lord Bates—or perhaps she can meet both of us.
* This is Cathy Bakewell, not to be confused – as The Independent‘s picture desk did – with Labour peer Joan Bakewell.