Previous SectionIndexHome Page

8.22 pm

Mr. Leslie: With the leave of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I want to respond to what has been a brief but constructive debate. It has allowed the Government to explain—I hope that it will not be necessary to do so more frequently—that the Bill is about enabling the Government to set a formula for the allocation of grant, and not the actual level of spending.

The hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins), in opening and responding to the debate on behalf of the Opposition, mentioned the great work of the emergency services and others. Indeed, he complimented the Government's handling of events post-11 September. I welcome those remarks. I am sorry that he has concluded that he will actively oppose the Bill. It seems that he is opposing a national strategic approach to

28 Nov 2001 : Column 1050

emergency planning funding, which is extremely regrettable. The Government want a planned and fair distribution of grant. The hon. Gentleman appears not to want that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) made a number of legitimate suggestions for improving public protection. He referred to the demise of the old warning sirens that were in place in the cold war era. I know that the Government are reviewing the adequacy of public warning systems and I hope that announcements will be made on that. My hon. Friend talked about no-fly zones around sensitive sites. He will be aware that following discussions in another place, the Departments involved will be taking up a number of his suggestions. He has given much attention to the Bill and has scrutinised it, and I value enormously his contribution.

The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) also paid tribute to the work of local emergency planning officers and others. He gave examples of work that is undertaken in his local authority area and the issues that are faced. He talked about demands on budgets, the need for training and the wish to see better communication systems. We need to reinstitute the ability to allocate a formula that is based on a series of criteria on a range of issues. We need legal authority to do that, and that is precisely what the Bill is designed to achieve.

My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Geraint Davies) has much experience as a former leader of his local council and as a member of the Public Accounts Committee. He understands entirely the need for the rational allocation of grant. He correctly summarised the Bill's provisions.

The hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Luff) raised a number of questions, in particular the flooding in the Wychavon area. He also referred to one possible cause of his geomorphic tilt, which I feel I may be suffering from at this time of the evening. Civil defence grant covers only the funding for local emergency planning units; it does not cover responses to floods. I understand that the budget is rising from £66 million for the financial year 2000–01 to £114 million in the financial year 2003–04. There is an increase in the amount that we are allocating to flood prevention. The hon. Gentleman also mentioned issues surrounding the control of major accident hazard sites. These are being reviewed by the Cabinet's Civil Contingencies Committee.

The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) has a great deal of knowledge about civil contingencies and emergency planning. I welcome his contribution. He specifically urged the Government to bring forward wider emergency planning legislation as soon as possible. The truth is that we are still learning many lessons, particularly after the events of 11 September. We intend to bring forward a Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows. We must ensure that we are covering all the relevant issues in such legislation.

The hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) made an interesting speech. He paid tribute to the Royal Observer Corps and the Territorial Army. He discussed the end of the cold war. I disagree with his conclusions about the Bill, but I understand the experience from which he speaks.

28 Nov 2001 : Column 1051

Several Members talked about the level of funding, especially those who spoke from the Front Benches. The issue of reprofiling spending has arisen throughout the debate. I am learning at all times. The Bill does not set the budget for civil defence grant, but it enables Ministers to do so. Ministers have yet to set the 2002–03 financial year resource. The question this evening is whether we should have a formula for allocating such grant.

We accept that we should reconsider financing for local authority emergency planning units. That is why we have the emergency planning review. Discussions are continuing, especially following the events of 11 September, in respect of the next comprehensive spending review. We will be considering all the representations that we are receiving from local authorities. The Local Government Association, in particular, has made representations, and we are trying to build on our continuing dialogue and regular communications with it. Its representations will be taken into account as far as possible. We are actively investigating the question of a formula based on the standard spending assessment.

To revisit the point about the Civil Contingencies Committee, it is chaired by the Home Secretary, although the civil contingencies secretariat is based in the Cabinet Office. It is clear, to me at least, where those organisations sit; I hope that that helps to clarify the matter for the House.

While the Government intend to consider new legislation on a range of civil contingency issues, this short Bill is required in the interim to re-establish a national strategic approach to civil defence grant allocation. The Government are concerned that, following the legal challenge, the costs of assessing the individual claims of each authority's bid to check whether they are reasonable is both disproportionate and burdensome, given the total size of the budget. A formula allocation is easier and more cost-efficient in administrative terms. Moreover, a system led by authority demand would fail to take account of the need for prioritisation and fairness across the country as a whole, so the Bill is needed now to reassert the importance of a comprehensive and planned nationwide emergency planning framework.

The hon. Member for Bath, among others, mentioned the need for a fundamental re-examination of civil contingencies work, which is currently under way in the emergency planning review and will address many specific representations on the level of grant and how best it should be allocated. The review specifically asked for comments on whether funding for local authorities should be made through the SSA. In the meantime, the basic building block of statute law is needed to give the Government the ability to implement the existing scheme and any new schemes.

There can be no doubt that the events of 11 September have caused significant anxiety across the world and in our own communities. Part of the process of ameliorating that concern is the demonstration that, as a society, we are well placed to cope with whatever emergencies may arise. The Bill reflects a mere fraction of the work required to tighten up our national resilience framework, but it is important nevertheless. It is a necessary tool in the delivery of effective emergency planning co-ordination across the country, and I commend it to the House.

28 Nov 2001 : Column 1052

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 292, Noes 159.

Division No. 90
[8.30 pm


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bennett, Andrew
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, Andy
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, Rt Hon Charles
(Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Gardiner, Barry
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, Rt Hon Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Havard, Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Andrew
Luke, Iain
Lyons, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall–Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simon, Siôn
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Winnick, David
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Ivor Caplin and
Mr. John Heppell.


Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John
Barrett, John
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Butterfill, John
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Dodds, Nigel
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr Liam
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Goodman, Paul
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan (Oxford W)
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hoban, Mark
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Oaten, Mark
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Price, Adam
Pugh, Dr John
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Simmonds, Mark
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Dr Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Trend, Michael
Trimble, Rt Hon David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Dr. Julian Lewis and
Mr. Charles Hendry.

Question accordingly agreed to.

28 Nov 2001 : Column 1055

Bill read a Second time.

Next Section

IndexHome Page