§ Dr. Kumar
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he has taken and what progress has been made by his Department in addressing the concerns of fire authorities about the aspect of the fire calls element of the standard spending assessment known as the perverse incentive. 
§ Mr. George Howarth
The fire service standard spending assessment formula has been considered each year by a Standard Spending Assessment Sub-group, chaired by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The local authority representatives on384W the Sub-group have not themselves this year initiated any proposals for changes to the indicator for fire, false alarm and certain special service calls in the fire service formula. However, the Home Office and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions have put forward options which would amend the basis of calculation and thereby reduce the volatility of the indicator. Decisions on the formula for 1999–2000 will be announced later this year.
We are committed to a fair distribution of grants to local authorities. This is why the Government are, in partnership with local government, establishing a three year programme of research to examine whether there is a better way of determining the distribution of revenue support grant than the present arrangement for standard spending assessments.