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Fire Services: North-east England | Westminster Hall debates

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Gary. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) on securing this important debate. She made a powerful speech, and she is an incredible champion for her area. We were all struck by her story of the children in Barmston Village Primary School, who all had stories to tell about arson. I was in nearby Horden last year, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Grahame Morris), where I met the veteran Sean Ivey, whose house was burned down by kids in the area. I heard about the antisocial behaviour and the epidemic of arson in the area; we must not underestimate the impact that those fires have on local communities.

It is interesting that Members from across the House have said the same things today: we need fairer funding and more funding; we understand the inequalities in how the system is set up—the precept council tax in particular; we need more capital expenditure; and there has been a fall in real terms in the salaries of our firefighters. Throughout the debate we have heard about the cuts over the past 12 years. Although the number of fires has been decreasing over the past few decades, we face significant new dangers. The number of fire service call-outs has increased every year since 2007; the number of fires increased by 3% last year; and global warming is leading to increased wildfires, which hon. Members have referred to—we saw a 200% increase this summer.