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Session 2005 - 06
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Standing Committee Debates

Seventeenth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation

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Seventeenth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation

The Committee consisted of the following Members:


†Mr. Bill Olner

†Bailey, Mr. Adrian (West Bromwich, West) (Lab/Co-op)
†Bellingham, Mr. Henry (North-West Norfolk) (Con)
Binley, Mr. Brian (Northampton, South) (Con)
†Campbell, Mr. Alan (Tynemouth) (Lab)
†Grayling, Chris (Epsom and Ewell) (Con)
Hughes, Simon (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD)
†Jones, Mr. Kevan (North Durham) (Lab)
Lilley, Mr. Peter (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con)
†Murphy, Mr. Jim (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office)
†Newmark, Mr. Brooks (Braintree) (Con)
†Short, Clare (Birmingham, Ladywood) (Lab)
†Smith, Mr. Andrew (Oxford, East) (Lab)
†Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton, South) (Lab)
Teather, Sarah (Brent, East) (LD)
†Whitehead, Dr. Alan (Southampton, Test) (Lab)
†Wright, Mr. Iain (Hartlepool) (Lab)
Geoffrey Farrar, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

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Thursday 14 July 2005

[Mr. Bill Olner in the Chair]

Draft Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Amendment of List of Responders) Order 2005

8.55 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office (Mr. Jim Murphy): I beg to move,

    That the Committee has considered the draft Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Amendment of List of Responders) Order 2005.

Good morning to you, Mr. Olner, and to other members of the Committee.

The draft order was laid before the House on 14 June. Before I begin, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the outstanding way in which the emergency services and the general public responded to the multiple tragedies in London last week. It is a testament not only to their courage and skill but to the benefit of long-term resilience planning, exercise and dedication. All those involved in civil contingencies planning and the emergency services were at their best.

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and its supporting regulations and guidance establish a single framework for civil protection in the United Kingdom. It will further enhance the resilience of the United Kingdom by setting out a clear set of responsibilities for those organisations with a role in preparing for, and responding to, emergencies at a local level; by delivering greater consistency in local civil protection activity; and by establishing the basis for robust performance management.

Schedule 1 of the Act lists the organisations that are subject to its provisions. The order amends that list to ensure that the legal framework captures all relevant bodies that have a role to play in local multi-agency civil protection work, and to ensure that it appropriately reflects the devolution settlement. The order will achieve that by doing two specific things.

First, importantly, the order will bring strategic health authorities within the legal framework. SHAs play a crucial role in co-ordinating emergency planning and response, and the order will enable them to play a full and active role in the regime established by the Act. Secondly, the order will correct a defect in
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the drafting of schedule 1, by providing that the Act will apply to the Health Protection Agency only so far as its functions relate to Great Britain.

The proposals to bring in the strategic health authorities and the change in respect of the Health Protection Agency are supported by all involved. The SHAs and the emergency planners associated with them are comfortable about the change taking place—in fact they are enthusiastic about it. Furthermore, the public consultation on the draft Civil Contingencies Act regulations and guidance, which included a series of 11 road show events in England and Wales, demonstrated clear support for the measure across the civil protection community.

The proposal to amend the territorial extent of the Health Protection Agency’s duties under the Civil Contingencies Act has been discussed and agreed with the Northern Ireland Administration.

8.58 am

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship again, Mr. Olner, although I suspect that it will be rather brief.

This is a non-controversial measure. All of us, in light of the terrible events in the past week, would both applaud the Government and offer them our support as they seek to find ways to ensure that not only are we well equipped to deal with terrorism but we have the arrangements in place to deal with tragic events, whatever the circumstances.

The Act has strengthened the country’s ability to respond to unforeseen circumstances. The order is little more than a tweaking exercise in an overall jigsaw puzzle of preparedness. Nothing in it causes the Conservatives any problems whatsoever, and I am happy to join the Minister in commending the order to the Committee.

8.59 am

Mr. Murphy: I am delighted by the hon. Gentleman’s response. The first line of the winding-up speech in my briefing notes says:

    “We have had a good debate this morning.”

This morning, for once, the emphasis in the debate was quality rather than quantity, which is unusual in Committees.

I place on record the Government’s thanks to the hon. Gentleman for those comments. The strong and unconditional support shown by the Leader of the Opposition to the Government has been one of Parliament’s strengths in the past few days.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Amendment of List of Responders) Order 2005.

Committee rose at Nine o’clock.


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