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Mr. Heath: I am part of the system, because my constituency floods every year and I am the village contact who is telephoned by the automatic dialling system—which is not terribly resilient, because if I am here when there is a flood, I am out of touch.

My point was that there should be commonality of systems wherever possible. For instance, would the Environment Agency system be available to other emergency services, to give advice, because it makes common sense for that to be the case, so that we do not have a variety of systems reaching the wrong people rather than a single system reaching the right people?

Ms Blears: There is a balance to be struck, and I am sure that there is common sense about using systems that are already in place, but we must also have the right people in charge of the right area, and in seeking a
 
24 May 2004 : Column 1384
 
completely homogeneous system, we could lose out on the particular skills and knowledge of the various agencies. We want to keep the lead agencies for their expertise, and we should not overlook the possibility of using their infrastructure—avoiding the cost of creating new infrastructure. That needs to be developed through guidance and regulations, which are part of the framework that we need to set up. It cannot be right, however, to have only one system, when the threats are various. That is why clause 2 makes it a local duty to have proper arrangements in place to inform the public.

We see no real merit in setting up the board proposed in the new clause, because there is no such thing as a standard terrorist threat or incident, so there can be no standard response. My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie) said in his thoughtful and insightful contribution that resilience should be flexible enough to respond to threats that we had perhaps not even contemplated. The responders need to co-operate, as there is not one size that fits all.

Patrick Mercer: In at least three newspapers recently, there have been reports that the Government intend to produce a leaflet for every household. Indeed, a draft of it was leaked to one of the newspapers. It certainly was not perfect, but it struck me that it was better than nothing. Do the Government intend to do that?

Ms Blears: We have considered the matter over the past 18 months, and a range of issues is under consideration. I do not intend to comment on individual leaks at this stage, but as well as leaflets we have done a huge amount with the websites and we are considering a whole range of ways of being in contact with the public.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam asked about the resilience of electronic infrastructure. Clearly, that is a key issue for our capabilities programme, and we are very conscious of it. It is vital for our resilience to keep up to date, as we are far more dependent on electronic communication than we were in the past.

The Home Office site contains advice on the threats and what to do at home, at work or when travelling, and information on what the Government are doing to help. The MI5 site, which was launched fairly recently, contains much more detailed advice on the threats that we face and what businesses can do. It describes how individuals can help combat the threat, acting as our eyes and ears.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office site provides constantly updated advice on threats abroad. "London Prepared" provides detailed advice on business continuity planning, with links to many other organisations. Many other departmental sites also include resilience and counter-terrorism advice and information.

There are 15 Government reports on resilience-related issues, and we have guidance for schools and teachers, through the "TeacherNet" site. There is a whole range of public information resources to ensure that the messages are accessible to as much of the public as possible.

8.30 pm

Michael Fabricant: If a biological, radiological or other weapon of mass destruction was let off near a school, say, how would people know to log on to one of
 
24 May 2004 : Column 1385
 
those websites? How would they know to tune in to the radio, without there being a siren system or another system to let them know that an event had happened?

Ms Blears: The response would vary depending on the incident. For example, in a nuclear installation there would be sirens, and on the street the emergency services would be the first there and would set up a cordon and instruct the public, and our normal systems of responding to emergencies would be in place.

We need to have some perspective and get the balance right. The hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) asked about live exercises. As he well knows, numerous exercises are taking place, both table-top and reality, and there was Operation Magpie just a couple of weeks ago. No-notice exercises such as he suggested would simply cause chaos and create the effect of an incident—almost doing the terrorists' job for them. None of the emergency services advocates such exercises. I urge the House to resist the new clause and the amendment.

Patrick Mercer: I am extremely disappointed but not surprised by the Government's reaction. Let me say to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Allan) that the points that I was trying to make were not political, but in fact supportive of the Government, because the last thing that this nation needs in the aftermath of a terrible incident is a Government put under intolerable pressure by the media about things that could have been avoided before the incident rather than being revealed by it.

The Minister's response on training is especially disappointing. The fact remains that if the Government follow any of the precedents, they must realise that there will be an opportunity cost for getting people and society prepared.

Only by so doing will we avoid the unnecessary loss of life and the political ramifications that will result. I am very disappointed by the Government's response and I shall seek to divide the House.

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

The House divided: Ayes 112, Noes 306.

Division No. 184
[8:33 pm


AYES

Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnside, David
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Curry, rh David
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Forth, rh Eric
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Grieve, Dominic
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Llwyd, Elfyn
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trimble, rh David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Weir, Michael
Wiggin, Bill
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Hugh Robertson and
Mr. Mark Francois


NOES

Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Barnes, Harry
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh A. J.
Bell, Sir Stuart
Bennett, Andrew
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blunkett, rh David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Corston, rh Jean
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Heath, David
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Holmes, Paul
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, rh Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Moore, Michael
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Rendel, David
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Thurso, John
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. John Heppell and
Mr. Jim Murphy


Question accordingly negatived.


 
24 May 2004 : Column 1388
 

New Clause 3


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