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Mr. Shepherd: But they will clearly need stooges, and we have them listed in the explanatory notes. The stooges, it appears, can be the First Lord of the Treasury and any of Her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, so the Whips can remain mute as they work on the regulations that will give this country security.
I have made the profound point that I want to make. Of course, we had all assumed that there was proper provision to be made for the organisations of this country. My own local authority is desperately short of money. Where will the funding come from? That point has been made. I have given no time to that side of the Bill, but I do not doubt that proper provision should be made for emergency planning. As for part 2, if the House were to divide on it I would gladly and willingly vote for itand twice if I were Irish.
Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey) (LD): Like my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Allan) and many colleagues around the Chamber, I welcome the fact that a Bill such as this has been brought before us. Indeed, my hon. Friend and I, and our colleagues, had been pushing for such legislation and complaining that it was taking so long in arriving. We were glad when the Government eventually announced that they would introduce a measure; we were glad that that measure was subjected to pre-legislative scrutiny; and we are glad that that process did its work well and that the Bill has been improved as a result.
Like colleagues on both sides of the House, however, I am clear about the fact that we have a long way to go yet. I do not intend to spend long reinforcing the points, which were extremely well made, about the need to ensure that when we have Bills that provide for extreme reactions, they are hedged about with the most careful protection. This place is one of the best protections that this country can be offered, and we ought to ensure that we offer such protection.
I shall dwell therefore on more mundane and practical mattersnot least, colleagues will be unsurprised to know, those involving our capital city, where the issue is live and in respect of which I have a particular responsibility. May I identify, then, the three headings which have emerged from the debate and which I want to reinforce? First, we have provided for duties of local
Secondly, we must spend as much time as we need in Committee on the definition and extent of the emergency and the emergency powers. The right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) made the point well that a triple lock that is subject to a single person's subjective view is a triple lock in name only. If we are to have real locks and real safeguards, we need different people to have the keys to those different locks. Parliament is meant to be a key that locks and unlocks powers and unleashes them in relation to the general public.
What is the test of what we should do as a country and as a capital city in terms of emergency planning and civil defence? Of course, the public service and the voluntary services should be properly prepared, but also the public need to be informed so that they can be alert but not alarmed. Those of us who live and work in or represent the United Kingdom's capital city are conscious that ours is not by any means the only prospective target or area where these matters are relevant, but this is, by definition, the most important place, as well as the most vulnerable.
London is the city with the monarch, the Government, Parliament and the civil service. It has the greatest concentration of business and financial interests. Those are self-evident, but the city is also the tourism centre of the UK. In many ways, London is the gateway to Europe. Since last Thursday, it is also a bid city for the Olympic games. Security is highly relevant to ensuring that the Olympic games bid succeeds, as we remember from the Munich games and unhappy events in the past.
As colleagues have reminded us, London also has to ensure that it continues to be the city where people of all races, all faiths, all cultures and all political traditions can come and speak their mind, knowing that this is a city of freedom. We need to get that balance right as we legislate on these difficult matters. We need to show that London is as safe as is practically possible and to see the benefit of that preparedness, but we must not go over the top.
I worry that when perfectly proper concernsfor example, that we might be subject to the new modern tradition of terrible activity through suicide bombersare expressed, we should not hear too much that suggests that such things are inevitable for our city. I have worked with others to ensure that the emergency services and all the others involved can prepare us appropriately against such fatalistic and foolish people. However, we must always reaffirm and seek to show through the military, the emergency services, the intelligence services and the others that although there is always a risk, people would not expect such a thing to happen either in this city or anywhere else in the UK.
I pay tribute to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for identifying the need for the inter-agency London Resilience team to look after the capital city. However, as a consequence, the public need various things. They need to know that regularly updated information about the preparations is available. We do not yet have the communication rightI shall return to that point. The public need to see exercises being carried out regularly, not as an emergency, to ensure that our airports, railways, underground, roads and city are properly prepared. I am glad that such an exercise took place in the City a few months ago, although I do not think the public have yet been accurately informed of the lessons that were learned. Lessons were learned, however, and that is good.
Simon Hughes: No, I certainly am not. If I did not make that explicit, I apologise. I am arguing that regular exercises should be held in all the places I mentionedour airports, our main-line railway termini, on the underground and at our seaportsand that the public should know about them in advance and see them happening. Fire alarms are held in every school and public building in the land; we all receive regular preparation for very local emergencies, and that needs to happen nationally, too. The British public do not over-reactthey do not become overly alarmed or irrationalbut they need to know what is being done for them and it needs to be done with them. I accept the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, which is something for which I have been arguing for many months outside this place.
What do all those points imply? I hope that by the end of our consideration of the measure, the regional tier will be a prerequisite. Just as there are other special arrangements for the capital cityfor obvious reasonsprovision for London needs to be slightly different. We are the only region of England with a regional assembly and a directly elected mayor and that changes the nature of the processes of consultation, decision making and accountability. The London Resilience team, the London Resilience partnership and the "London Prepared" website need to be reviewed regularly both by regional government and by all the London local authorities.
I cannot stress too highly the need for appropriate funding; both the Joint Committee and the Defence Committee made that clear. Many of us have received a briefing from the Local Government Association, which states: