Joint Committee on Draft Civil Contingencies Bill First Report

Appendix 4: Note by Dr James Broderick, Specialist Adviser to the Committee


What follows is a summary of the main points and questions contained in the Opening Brief submitted to the Clerks.

Definition of Emergency:

  • Emergency is defined very broadly in the documentation
  • There is ample scope for ambiguity and misinterpretation of events
  • More structured categorisations of emergency are used in other countries
  • The current structure of the Bill's terms of reference creates problems regarding the allocation of power and responsibility

Risk and Risk Management:

  • Risk and risk management underpin the Bill team's approach to civil contingency
  • The team adopts the view that disruptive challenges exist along a spectrum of severity but insufficient guidance is given about where key thresholds lie on this spectrum
  • The Bill team over-emphasises quantification at the expense of qualitative issues
  • Insufficient explanation is given regarding key governmental response mechanisms
  • Horizontal and vertical integration in emergency response is not assured

Local Tier:

  • Why is the statutory duty placed only on the local tier?
  • The funding of the duty is not properly addressed
  • Communications issues are not addressed
  • Problems beset the proposal to create categories of Responder organisation

Regional Tier:

  • The Draft Bill itself does not specifically mention the creation of a regional 'tier'
  • The regional tier is poorly defined
  • Why is a statutory duty not being placed on the regional level?
  • The regional co-ordinator's role further embeds the problematic 'lead government department' concept
  • The lack of specification in the Bill and supporting documentation means that the regional tier could become subject to problems already being experienced at local and national levels

The National Tier:

  • The Draft Bill removes the Government duty to have civil contingency plans. This should be reviewed
  • Central Government should report annually on defence and security in the UK
  • The government should review how it transmits intelligence-based information
  • Central rather than regional government should retain the crucial leadership function in emergency response
  • Review and reform of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, led by a dedicated Cabinet Minister other than the Home Secretary is required



The following commentary on the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill is divided into five main sections: 1. Emergency, 2. Risk and risk management, 3. Local Tier, 4. Regional Tier, 5. National Tier. A brief conclusion then follows.

1.  Emergency

'Emergency' is defined very broadly in the documentation.[293] In one sense this is a seemingly rational approach which reflects a core belief that "..civil protection in the 21st Century bore [sic] little resemblance to the 20th Century legislation in which it had its roots."[294] The idea is that "the range of challenges that society faces has broadened as networks have become more complex" thus a greater degree of co-ordination and integration of activities is required.[295] The definition of emergency is "designed to be highly inclusive, encompassing circumstances as diverse as severe flooding, a major chemical attack, disruption of fuel supplies and epidemics."[296] The advantage of such a conceptualisation is, of course, that flexibility and adaptability can be built into the legislative framework which can then be used as authority to act decisively should novel or unforeseen events occur.

However the very generality of this overarching definition does give rise to a number of questions which merit further exploration. In particular, the definition is so wide there is ample scope for ambiguity and misinterpretation of events. For example, the section entitled "When Emergency Powers May be used" of the Consultation Document uses terminology such as "Major accidents", "Serious Economic Crises" "major acts of terrorism" and "War-like situations" without further explanation of the underlying quantitative or qualitative terms which will determine whether a given event or events should be labelled an emergency. [297] For example, what exactly does the term 'war-like situation' mean here?

Why have the Bill team decided to opt for such a broadly defined and vaguely differentiated conceptualisation of the term 'emergency'? Specifically, what are the reasons for avoiding a more structured definition of emergency since it is not that difficult to identify distinct 'typologies' of such situations. Events could be categorised using clearly understood (rather than simply implied) quantitative terms of reference relating to severity of impact (financial loss, fatalities etc) and/or qualitative assumptions that differentiate between terrorist attack, viral pandemic, failure of critical infrastructure/services and so on. Importantly, this could provide guidance as to where responsibility for managing/responding to emergencies should reside.

More structured categorisations of emergency are used in other countries. For example, in the Report by British Institute of International and Comparative Law it is noted that the Robert. T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act differentiates between a "major disaster" and an "emergency" in terms of "duration, extent of damage and the amount of federal assistance needed and provided."[298] Moreover:

The Stafford Act governs the co-ordination and delivery of [federal] disaster relief for natural and man-made disasters. It establishes a process for requesting and obtaining a [Presidential] disaster declaration, defines the type and scope of assistance available from the [Federal] government and sets the conditions for obtaining the assistance."[299]

In my view, the documentation accompanying the draft Bill does not adequately explain why a greater degree of differentiation has been rejected, nor how the current draft legislation will better address key 'generic' requirements in emergency management such as: clarity of definition, well-understood chains of command and control and clear mechanisms for the provision of assistance.

At present, "clause 1(7) [of the draft Bill] enables a Minister to clarify in regulations whether particular or situations are or are not to be regarded as constituting an emergency"[300] The danger here is that regulations will be slow in development, imprecise in scope and/or ineffective. A potential outcome is that, at crucial junctures, Ministers will themselves be looking for guidance in the face of events precisely when coherent leadership and strategic direction is urgently required from this level of government. At such a time, a more clearly defined, structured, conceptualisation of emergency in the primary 'enabling' legislation might prove to be highly beneficial. At present these concerns are not properly addressed in the documentation which accompanies the draft Bill.

These are not merely semantic issues. The current structure of the Bill's terms of reference creates problems and ambiguities regarding the allocation of power and responsibility in the face of unforeseen catastrophe. Resolving these questions at a fundamental level should be a primary purpose of an 'enabling' Bill. In its current form, the draft Bill may simply perpetuate these tensions.

2.  Risk and Risk Management

As is revealed in paragraph 1 of the Executive Summary of the Consultation Document, risk and risk management are central organising concepts which underpin the structure and approach to civil protection outlined in the Draft Bill. While these are an appropriate conceptualisation of the problem of improving the UK's vulnerability to disruptive challenge a number of issues do arise.

Quantification of Risk

The Consultation Documents states: "The aim of building resilience is to reduce susceptibility to challenges by reducing the probability of their occurrence and their likely effects."[301] This is a fairly standard definition of risk associated in particular with quantified risk assessment (QRA) techniques. That some form of quantitative differentiation is being utilised is also clearly implied by the statement that: "Disruptive challenges exist along a spectrum of severity ranging from local flooding to massive terrorist attack"[302]

However, neither the Bill nor the accompanying documentation address where key thresholds lie on this 'spectrum of severity'. At what point will a 'local' emergency become a 'regional' or 'national' emergency? How are Ministers to make such a judgement? Indeed, the purpose of the Bill is to 'enable' Ministers to declare a state of emergency but the framework proposed appears to assume that Ministers, in the face of novel or unforeseen events, will be vested with perfect information and a comprehensive understanding of the substantive essence of the problem they face. Yet risk practitioners themselves all acknowledge (supported by numerous theoretical studies of crisis decision-making) that during periods of crisis, decision-makers are subject to severe limitations, asymmetries and distortions of information as well a being subject to highly stressful, threatening and surprising events requiring rapid response. Is there a case for building in to the Bill itself a clearer structure or clarification of what is meant by 'severity' and better guidance as to how different levels of severity should be tackled?

The Draft Bill is supposed to impart a level of 'consistency' (i.e. 'rationality') in decision-making and emergency response which current UK emergency powers legislation does not achieve. The above points indicate that the new Draft Bill makes some highly contentious assumptions about 'rational' decision-making that are very similar to the problems we currently face regarding the existing legislative framework. It is not clear that the proposed changes will be any more effective in addressing these problems.

Moreover, the Consultation Document's proposed "triple lock" against misuse of Emergency Powers doesn't provide much in the way of assurance here:

  • Seriousness - the situation should be serious enough in nature to warrant the use of Emergency Powers
  • The need for special legislative measures -...should only ever be used if there is a genuine need to take such special legislative measures
  • Relevant geographical extent - A need for special legislative measures should be declared on the minimum geographical extent required.[303]

The above appear to be a mix of tautological argument and general aspirational ideals rather than a properly defined mechanism either to assist the appropriate use, or conversely, to prevent the abuse, of the powers envisaged by the Bill. Moreover, this 'triple lock' is not contained in the draft bill itself, other than in the context of Her Majesty or the Secretary of State being 'satisfied' that a serious threat...exists." Whether a more clearly defined set of safeguards should be inserted in the Bill proper is clearly an important issue for consideration.

Qualitative concerns

Is it appropriate to neglect qualitative distinctions between 'disruptive challenges' such as 'local flooding' and 'terrorist attack'? The Draft Bill Team clearly think so as it is stated that "the purpose of the Civil Contingencies Bill…is to deliver a single framework for civil protection in the United Kingdom" and that, "in a diffuse world of risks this is best delivered through an approach based on generic capabilities."[304] Yet, while the end goals of consistency of structure and flexibility of response are laudable goals, will these be delivered by the framework outlined?

A vital aspect of this problem is revealed in reference to Margaret Thatcher's recollection of the government's response to the Miner's Strike of 1984. In, The Downing Street Years, Mrs. Thatcher notes that in response to the declaration of a national dock strike:

We mobilized the Civil Contingencies Unit to prepare to meet the crisis but avoided proclaiming a state of emergency, which might have meant the use of troops. Any sign of overreaction to the dock strike would have given the miners and other union militants new heart."[305]

Clearly, for Mrs. Thatcher, the problems of 1984 were a complex mix of 'economic', 'social' and 'political' problems and calculations. Such contextual concerns therefore render highly problematic the idea that emergencies can be easily quantified or universally understood in equivalent terms. What is certainly apparent here is that, faced by the extension of industrial unrest beyond the mining sector, Ministers were not assisted by the structure of emergency powers legislation. If anything, the possibility of military involvement, as well as the political signals which would be sent by using such powers, were disincentives to invoke such legislation. It is not certain that the current structure of the Draft Bill will significantly improve matters. Realistically, any declaration of emergency will always have to be made in a politicised context. Current legislation was obviously unwieldy in 1984, whether these lessons have been learnt in relation to the new Draft Bill need to be explored.

As a corollary to this I would like to sound a note of caution in relation to the deliberations of the Joint Committee. In reference to the Foot and Mouth Epidemic of 2001, it could be said that one cannot conclude that increased powers are necessary to prevent a repetition of the problems in 2001. First the FMD problems were not necessarily related to lack of powers. Second the Animal Health Act 2002 has increased powers to deal with such an outbreak where inadequacies had been demonstrated. It is hard to believe that even greater powers and less accountability would have improved the situation.

While this is a relevant and important point, there is also a danger to be avoided here. In considering the appropriateness of the Draft Bill, attention should not solely be paid to exploring merely whether an 'increase' in powers is commensurate with the 'severity' of future disruptive challenges. This restricts our thinking to simplistic (and partial) terms of reference that over-emphasises quantification at the expense of important qualitative concerns about the substantive nature of 'emergency' and the context in which crisis decision-making occurs.

An effective risk management approach?

Despite the clear aim to modernise the legislative tools available and create a single flexible framework for civil protection, the Bill Team's documentation does not adequately explain why a number of important concepts are considered integral to effective emergency response. In relation to aspects of the "Policy Development" process, the documents state: "Analysis of current practice and procedure informed decisions about the scope and structure of the Bill. The wider resilience agenda, including the capabilities based approach and the Lead Government Department concept."[306] No supporting argument is given as to why these are considered effective mechanisms of risk management.

If emergencies have qualitative as well as quantitative characteristics, where does this leave the 'generic' or 'capabilities based' approach outlined? In fact, what does this term actually mean in practice? Similarly problematic is the continued faith in the efficacy of the "Lead Government Department" concept. Certainly the Anderson Report into the 2001 FMD crisis outlines, in paragraph 9.8, a very interesting range of possible reasons why the army's assistance was not sought early on:

The delay may have been due to a desire to avoid sending negative political messages about the gravity of the crisis. They may have been caused by MAFF's reluctance to ask for help. Or they may have occurred simply because central government did not appreciate the size of the task.

Quite clearly, the lead government department concept in 2001 might well have been a contributory factor to the eventual severity of the FMD problem. This criticism is not addressed in the Consultation Document.

Also, no mention of the Lead Government Department mechanism is made in the Draft Bill itself, nor is any further light shed by the Explanatory Notes. Again this raises the question: Why is this process deemed an efficient risk management approach? For further illustration of the potential problems inherent even in designating a 'lead department' one need only briefly refer to the "Matrix of Sector Emergency Powers" Annex J (supplied by the Clerks) and think, for example, of a radiological leak from a civil nuclear power facility contaminating the water supply. In this instance it would appear that a number of major government departments, including DEFRA, the DTI, OPDM and the DOH all appear to have some form of immediate departmental relevance and/or 'capability'. What is still not clear is how the process of designating response authority/responsibility will be rendered more effective/efficient than at present. In other words, as well as considering whether the Draft Bill is merely a simple codification of existing practice one should ask whether the Draft Bill will perpetuate (and even more deeply embed) current problems with UK resilience.

Despite the drive to improve risk awareness and risk management in emergency response, it is not clear that the Bill's aim of ensuring "an effective response capability across the local area to all hazards"[307] will be successful. Neither is it certain that 'vertical' integration in the resilience framework will be promoted. Furthermore, as well as the likelihood of delay, departmental prevarication and 'blamism' arising from the 'capabilities based/lead government department' framework, the Draft Bill and accompanying documentation contains some glaring omissions/gaps in terms of the roles and responsibilities of key government agencies/departments. I hope to explore these 'framework' issues further in the following sections but one in particular merits attention here.

Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill - Repeals and Revocations - notes that Section 1 of The Emergency Powers Act 1964 will be repealed or revoked by the new legislation.[308] Why does the rest of the 1964 Act fall outside of the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill's remit? The Explanatory Notes merely state: "Section 2 of this Act does not relate to Emergency Powers but provides the legislative underpinning for Military Aid to Government Departments."[309] The Consultation Document devotes precisely one paragraph of its 42 pages to the issue of the role of the military during an emergency. It states:

Ministers have agreed that the proposed new special legislative measures framework will not affect the operation of military assistance in an emergency situation. Section two of the Emergency Powers Act 1964 provides an important legal basis for the provision of military assistance and will remain in place. No new powers will be granted to the military, their role will remain as it is at present.[310]

Given the crucial (and at times highly problematic) utility of military assistance in relation to the Miner's Strike of 1984 and the FMD outbreak of 2001, the assumptions governing such a ministerial decision should be thoroughly explored. The civil-military relationship is critical in promoting UK resilience. Why the current legislative framework governing MACA is considered adequate needs to be examined further.

3.  The Local Tier

The Draft Bill proposes to establish a series of duties on local Responder organisations which will reduce the "reliance on permissive powers" and "bring civil protection into the mainstream" of local Responder functions.[311] While such a move is generally to be welcomed it is not certain that, as currently formulated, the scope of such statutory duty will be effective in ensuring that civil protection is "applied consistently across the local Responder organisations."[312] A number of important questions do need to be addressed:

Why is the statutory duty placed only on the local tier? Why are regional and national tiers of government exempt from a similar process of 'formalisation' of the civil protection duty in the Draft Bill? This relates to earlier comments about the vagueness inherent in the definitions and approaches adopted in the Draft Bill and its accompanying documentation. But it also creates a further problem in that the 'burden' of creating an effective civil protection regime looks to be particularly 'bottom-heavy' in the framework currently envisaged. Local Responder organisations are already stretched in terms of resources and capacity, is there not a case for the Draft Bill to introduce a more equitable distribution of the duty across the 3 tiers of government (local-regional-national)?

The funding of the duty is another key area of concern here. The creation of a statutory duty at the local level is accompanied by a move to merge the current Civil Defence Grant with the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) in line with the wider LGA commitment to removing the amount of specific and ring-fenced grants available to local authorities. Aside from the highly contentious view that the new Civil Protection duty will not carry significant extra cost, this obviously creates the potential for the perpetuation of inconsistency across the local tier as different LGAs will make differing provision for civil protection as they try to balance competing funding priorities and respond to local variations in civil protection needs. Yet, at the same time, no funding provision appears to have been made at the regional level. Neither are there corresponding changes in national provision for emergency financial assistance, instead, it is proposed that the Bellwin scheme be retained. Thus the national financial provision for emergency assistance remains essentially locked into the present response framework and does not appear to be particularly supportive of the statutory changes envisaged in the Draft Bill. The financial structure outlined thus reinforces a 'bottom-heavy' framework and simply perpetuates the problem of permissiveness and inconsistency across the local tier.

Communications issues are similarly not addressed despite the statement contained in the Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment that "Information-sharing and co-operation are the foundations of enhanced resilience."[313] However, at present, different Responder agencies have different levels of access to classified information and intelligence. How is information-sharing and resilience to be promoted under the current classification regime? The documentation accompanying the Draft Bill essentially avoids exploring this problem.

Such problems also beset the proposal to create two Categories of Responder organisation. How will the proposed twin categorisation be affected by asymmetry of access to information? Also, why is the nomination of Category 1 and 2 Responders only being made at the local level? Is there not an argument for creating such categories at a regional (if not national) tier as well? This differentiation might well have positive implications for burden and cost sharing which are not explored either in the Consultation Document nor the Partial Regulatory Impact Assessments. In fact the 'three option' cost/benefit analysis outlined in the Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment completely fails to take into account the potential offset to costs by coordinating Category 2 Partnership activities at a regional or national level. For some Category 2 organisations there could well be economies of scale to be achieved by locating the Partnership/co-operation function regionally rather than duplicating such activities in a large number of local forums. The Documentation accompanying the Draft Bill makes no mention of the cost/benefit implications of adopting this approach.

If nothing else, these points do undermine some key premises of the argument for adopting: "Option 2: Duty on a limited Range of Organisations" rather than "Option 3: Duty on a larger range of agencies - with co-ordination ensured by a statutory Partnership" at the local level.[314] Adopting Option 3 might actually bestow a financial advantage in that it could be used as a mechanism whereby Category 1 Responders at the local level can explore means of financial/resource 'burden-sharing' with Partner (Cat. 2) organisations (and vice versa).

Moreover, in the documentation accompanying the Draft Bill it is clearly argued that a proactive approach to Business Continuity and Risk Management has positive cost/benefit outcomes for the private sector.[315] But, if this is the case, doesn't such logic also suggest that a formal 'statutory Partnership' could actually further foster 'risk awareness' in the private sector? Also, might such a duty provide a clear, well-defined legislative framework within which Category 2 organisations could seek to limit their exposure to corporate/insurance liability costs and/or claims? None of these avenues of exploration appear to have been adequately investigated.

Such problems are not helped by the fact that Parts 1 and 2 of the Draft Bill have differing territorial extents. [316] Clause 12 of Part 1 only specifies that the Welsh Assembly should be consulted during emergencies affecting that part of the UK. At present, the Consultation Document merely states that "separate consultation" is being carried out in Scotland and Northern Ireland. What specific provisions are being made arising from the consultation with these assemblies? How will 'consistency' of local response be assured and monitored? Also, is there a case for including specific provision in Part 1 of the Bill to include the Greater London Authority?

4.  The Regional Tier

Although a number of problems relating to the regional tier have already been alluded to, a number of further areas of concern need to be considered. The Explanatory Notes devote a single paragraph to the creation of "Regional and Emergency Co-ordinators" and simply defines their regional role as, "sitting at a regional level to enable effective co-ordination of response efforts supported by local knowledge and exercising specific powers that may be granted to him or her..."[317] Chapter four of the Consultation Document is entitled "A New Regional Tier" but, again, the powers, roles and functions envisaged are so vaguely formulated (being largely centred around "co-ordination", "support" and "assistance" roles) that it is difficult to achieve a clear sense of just what value is being added by the creation of this new tier.[318]

Furthermore, it should be noted that the Draft Bill itself does not specifically mention the creation of a regional 'tier' at all. Indeed, Part 1 of the Bill essentially excludes Northern Ireland and Scotland as it deals with "Local Arrangements for Civil Protection" and, in Clause 12, simply makes provision for "consultation with the National Assembly for Wales."[319] In Part 2 of the Bill, Clause 22 concentrates entirely on the appointment of individual regional co-ordinators and Clause 26 stipulates that Ministers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be consulted in relation to emergency regulations affecting those parts of the UK.[320] Should a more specific commitment to creating a 'regional tier' be included in the Draft Bill? If nothing else, the Scottish and Northern Ireland assemblies appear to fall somewhat between two stools here in that they are at once 'regional assemblies' with power to organise 'local response'. As such they are structurally and constitutionally unlike the proposed English regional agencies. Whether such variations will affect 'consistency' of response is not made clear. Furthermore, how will equivalence in the levels of protection afforded between the regions be assessed?

Also, why is a statutory duty not being placed on the regional level in the same manner as at the local level? The creation of the new tier, it appears will be done through the general regulatory powers granted to Ministers under this enabling Bill If nothing else, doesn't this introduce great uncertainty regarding the supposed regional 'leadership' function that is supposed to ensue from this Bill?[321] It is not clear that the regional 'leadership' role will be well-understood by other tiers of government nor how the goal of horizontal 'consistency' across the regional tier will be promoted.

Certainly significant concerns have arisen in relation to this proposed 'new' tier of government, not least among emergency planners within the LGAs. In particular there is a widespread view that the regional tier will simply act as another layer of bureaucracy, to which local Responders and other agencies will be required to report, but which does not itself have any significant power or authority and which will not be able to provide support either in terms of resource allocation or strategic guidance. Instead, many fear that the introduction of such a tier will have a detrimental effect on local Responder's effectiveness as it will simply increase their administrative burden and undermine clarity in command and control processes from the national tier down. Lastly, in this regard, how will the regional tier be funded? No mention at all is made of funding provision for this tier of the response framework. Will the regional offices be required to fund the activities? Will there be funds available to the local tier channelled via the regional level? Why are these issues not addressed in the cost analysis contained in the supporting documentation? Given the generality of the conceptualisation of the regional tier as outlined in the Draft Bill and its accompanying documentation, these concerns should be given serious consideration.

Other questions which require clarification include whether the 'regional co-ordinator' role further embeds the 'lead government department' concept by extending it to the regional tier? As has already been observed, this is a highly questionable approach to emergency response which appears to have been adopted as an 'article of faith' by the Bill team. The arguments for extending this process to the regional tier should be clarified.

It does appear that the regional tier might inherit some other problems currently associated with the local level. In particular, how will the civil-military relationship be fostered? Despite the fact the Draft Bill will leave the current legislative underpinning of the MACA arrangements largely intact, it is clear that civil-military co-ordination is to be primarily located at this tier. However, neither the Bill itself nor the accompanying documentation explores or clarifies the advantages/disadvantages of such a decision. The Consultation Document states that "Regional Resilience Forums (RRFs) have been formed to bring together the key players, including central government agencies and the Armed Forces, and representatives of local Responders such as the emergency services and local authorities."[322] But, how will the envisaged regional structure address the problems of asymmetries in access to classified information and/or intelligence? This is a problem which continues to dog the efforts of Responders at the local level, it is not at all clear how the regional tier will escape similar difficulties.

The MOD has already announced its intent to earmark approximately 6,000 reservists organised into some 14 units for a civil defence/protection role under the 'New Chapter' of the Strategic Defence Review. Hence the creation of a regional tier of government, in my view, does impart some advantages. If nothing else, by establishing military-civil cooperative arrangements at this level a measure of 'consistency' is achieved in that, as is noted in the Defence Committee's Report on the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill: "the Civil Contingency Reaction Forces (CCRF) are being established in each regional Brigade area and those areas with two exceptions match the Government Office regions which will be the basis for the regional tier."[323] However, the problem remains that the conceptualisation of the regional role is only partially, and vaguely, outlined. In essence, as currently defined, the regional tier is 'neither fish nor fowl'.

As noted above, the lack of specification in the Bill and supporting documentation means that the regional tier could become subject to problems already being experienced at local and national levels and, rather than enhancing resilience, might simply become yet another bureaucratic obstacle to creating an effective response framework. But, within the regional tier there is, in my view, a profound opportunity as well. The process of creating a regional tier, if properly managed, could lead to the establishment of a 'cellular' framework of emergency response that would provide the entire UK with a robust, flexible, interoperable and interdependent system of emergency planning and response. It will also ameliorate the bottom-heavy emphasis of the present framework and provide support for overstretched local Responders. A cellular response framework (or system) is, in my opinion, the most appropriate for fostering UK resilience to disruptive challenge. Whether the regional tier should be considered as the appropriate organisational location to achieve this end is a critical area for further consideration.

5.  The National Tier

I have only a few brief comments regarding the national tier since, in my opinion, key points are clearly expressed in documents CC12 and CC3. In particular, I should like to refer the Committee to paragraphs 5-9 of Document CC12 which lists five main areas of concern relating to the national tier. In short these recommendations are as follows:

  • The Draft Bill removes the Government duty to have civil contingency plans. This should be reviewed.
  • That Central Government should report annually on defence and security in the UK.
  • The government should review how it transmits intelligence-based information
  • Central rather than regional government should retain the crucial leadership function in emergency response
  • Review and reform of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, led by a dedicated Cabinet Minister other than the Home Secretary is required if a strong central government structure is to be put in place.

It should be noted that the Draft Bill and its supporting documentation appears to have ignored, rejected or discounted these important and relevant criticisms of the national response framework made, in particular, by the House of Commons Select Committee on Defence in two separate and wide ranging reports on this area of concern since the attacks of 11 September 2001.[324]

6.  Conclusion

That a need exists to update the UK's legislative framework governing domestic resilience to disruptive challenge is widely recognised. However, in its current form, the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill is, in my view, only a partially successful response to the need to enhance UK resilience. The documentation which accompanies the Bill clearly demonstrates that the Bill team have thought hard about the problems the UK is likely to face and have sought to make use of some appropriate concepts and methods in constructing a new legislative framework. However, as this brief has at least partially illustrated, the analysis contained in the supporting documentation, and the structure of the Draft Bill itself, is fraught with lack of specification, inconsistency and omission. I believe that a number of key areas of concern are inadequately explained by the Bill team. I hope that the comments contained in this brief will be of assistance to the Committee in its deliberations on the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill.

293   See for example the "Common Definition of Emergency"pp12-13 of the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill Consultation Document. Back

294   Ibid, p.9, para.2. Back

295   Ibid, p.12, para. 2. Back

296   Draft Civil Contingencies Bill Explanatory Notes p.27 para. 41. Back

297   Consultation Document, pp.28-29. Back

298   Report by British Institute of International and Comparative Law on "Emergency Planning and Civil Protection in France, Sweden, the European Union and the United States", p.43. Back

299   Ibid, p.45 [..] added. Back

300   Explanatory Notes, p.24, para. 11. [..] added. Back

301   Consultation Document, p.5, para.1. Back

302   Ibid. Emphasis added. Back

303   Ibid, p. 28, para 19. Back

304   Consultation Document p.5 paras 5-7. Back

305   Margaret Thatcher: The Downing Street Years, p 356. Back

306   Consultation Document, p.10, para.8. Back

307   Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment, p.4, para.18. Emphasis added. Back

308   Draft Civil Contingencies Bill page 19. Back

309   Explanatory Notes, p. 29, para.57. Back

310   Consultation Document, p. 30, para.37. Back

311   Ibid, pp.17-18, para. 6. Back

312   Ibid, p,18, para. 6. Back

313   Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment p.34, para 18. Back

314   Ibid. pp. 36-44. Back

315   See for example Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment p. 33 paras. 13-14. Back

316   Consultation Document pp.32-33. Back

317   Explanatory Notes, p.28. para. 49. Emphasis added. Back

318   See Consultation Document pp.22-25. Back

319   Draft Civil Contingencies Bill pp.1 - 9. Back

320   Ibid, pp.7-13. Back

321   See Consultation Document, p.23. Back

322   Ibid. p.23 para. 7. Back

323   Defence Committee Draft Civil Contingencies Bill 7th Report of Session 2002-3, HC 557, p.17, para. 43. Back

324   Defence Committee Draft Civil Contingencies Bill 7th Report of Session 2002-3, HC 557 and Defence and Security in the UK, 6th Report of Session 2001-02, HC 518-I. Back

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