Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-79)|
9 SEPTEMBER 2003
Q60 Lord Condon: If I may follow
up the point on the inspectorate. You mentioned the individual
service inspectorates. The new Bill encourages clearly joint ventures,
joint preparedness, joint exercises and so on. Is there a need
for a new inspectorate or a joint inspectorate or a better form
Mr Goldsmith: The ACPO view is
that there would be benefit in a separate inspectorate for emergency
planning. The reason I give is that at present HMIC inspects police
forces, so they come along, and part of the process is to talk
to the Crown Prosecution Service and probation and others as to
how we work with them. The CPS inspectorate come along and they
talk to probation and they talk to the police. Then probation
comes along, their inspectorate, and again looks at this. It does
seem to me that something as definable and containable as emergency
planning could quite properly justify a very small inspectorate
concentrating on that to look at joint working.
Q61 Lord Condon: Would you see that
linked to a central contingency of some sort?
Mr Goldsmith: Through CCS, yes.
Mr Selwood: Speaking from the
Ambulance Services Association, I support Alan's view. That is
a personal view, Lord Condon. I think it is such a specialised
area but also there is a need to ensure that it is collectively
organised because none of us will survive independently in such
an area. It is in order to provide this collective view that I
think it needs to be inspected across the piste as opposed to
within organisations. So far as the question around funding is
concerned, as you know, health is funded through the mechanism
of primary care trusts, and my view is similar to Alan's: it is
about priorities. My concern is that the funding which is allocatedand
it is not about having new money, it is about ensuring that the
money reflects the priorities of the countryshould have
some mechanism which raises this agenda to a level which is commensurate
with the intentions of the Bill. I am not quite sure how that
would work. But I think it is essential if real changes are going
to be made.
Mr Dobson: If I may answer from
the fire service point of view, first on the issue of funding.
Funding for fire authorities, our role in emergency planning,
currently comes initially through the civil defence grant, which
clearly under the new regulations would no longer exist. Fire
authorities nationally at the moment set their level of funding
appropriate to their statutory duty, it being the first consideration
in setting the level of budget for emergency planning, and, secondly,
where they see that emergency planning in terms of priorities.
Clearly, over the last couple of years it has risen in degree
of priority, however, we do recognise that within the draft Bill
there is an increased requirement, increased responsibilities
for fire authorities generally, responsibilities we have not previously
had, and we do anticipate there would be increased costs for fire
authorities in order to comply with the requirements of the draft
Bill. Our view would be that that could adequately be provided
for within the revenue support grants to the fire authorities
but we would welcome some form of ring-fencing or identified provision
within the revenue support grant which has identified that the
Government feels that individual fire authorities should commit
to emergency planning work under the new legislation. As far as
the audit process is concerned, we certainly feel that there should
be an identifiable and robust audit process of emergency planning
within England and Wales. Our view is that we would like to consider
it further in terms of whether or not existing mechanisms could
be appropriate, because we would see a role certainly for Her
Majesty's Inspectorate Fire Services but also for things like
the Audit Commission, and we feel that possibly it could be picked
up against defined standards in things like comprehensive performance
assessment, individual performance review of local authorities
generally. So before we set up a specific body just to look at
emergency planning, we feel we need to consider the standards
and how they could actually be fitted within existing audit processes.
Q62 Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: I
assume that the emergency services have a system now whereby they
request and pay from other areas for assistance. Would that process
stand up to a serious emergency in terms of implementing both
the request and recompensing those that provide the assistance?
Mr Goldsmith: The police service
has established what we call PNIICC, the Police National Information
and Intelligence Coordinating Centre. That is a bit of a mouthful
but basically it facilitates mutual aid between police forces,
not on a regional basis but nationally. If one force has a major
incident to deal with, whether public disorder or, indeed, a major
disaster in the terms we are talking about here, then we would
establish PNIICC, which would enable resources from whichever
force was able to provide to send them. At a much lower level,
in a sense on a day-to-day basis, there are often mutual aid arrangements
between neighbouring forces. When there are discipline inquiries,
for example, where it is deemed appropriate for an external force
to provide it, then that is mutual aid. The funding arrangements
vary. If it is a very short timescale, low number of officers,
then often we just do it on the basis of additional costs; in
other words, travel, subsistence and overtime rather than basic
pay. If we are talking about a national commitment, there are
agreed rates. Our experience recently in providing resources to
another force was that we recovered about 72% of the cost of the
staff we sent. But the arrangements are there, they are robust,
and they would work in these circumstances.
Mr Dobson: From the fire service
point of view, the Fire Service Act 1947 covers for mutual aid
between fire authorities in two separate areas. One is incident
based, where we call upon the resources as necessary to assist
us in dealing with that. Perversely that only deals with fire,
so currently the legislation only covers in those circumstances
for other fire authorities to assist us with mutual aid in relation
to a fire. However, in practice we are confident that fire authorities
would support us in the circumstances of other types of incident.
The other part of the Fire Services Act deals with the ability
of a fire authority to discharge its responsibilities in a certain
part of its area by another fire authority. In both those sections
of the Fire Services Act there is provision for payment. In the
first section, whereby we call mutual aid on the insurgence of
an individual incident, it is unusual for us to seek recompense
from other fire authorities because one of the mechanisms for
actually identifying the costs is so difficult, and actually it
does not cover the fuel and things you use and the appliances,
it only covers for the structural arrangements to put that into
place. With regard to discharging our functions in a particular
area, then, yes, in certain brigades those arrangements are in
place and charges are made, and the system for making those charges
in those areas is quite robust.
Mr Selwood: So far as the Ambulance
Service Association is concerned, as Chairman of the Civil Emergencies
Committee I have recently championed a piece of work which tries
to replicate ACPO's mutual aid agreements across the country.
That piece of work has now been endorsed by the National Council
of the Ambulance Service Association and it is now trying to find
the mechanisms to make it work. The words are on paper; actually
making it happen come the day is something on which we have to
do some more work, but the high level agreement is in place.
Q63 Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: My
final question on this section is more to elicit opinion rather
than information. The draft Bill would allow the Government to
requisition property or to allow for the destruction of property,
animal or plant life with or without compensation. Should
compensation be given in the case of the destruction of property,
animal or plant life through actions taken under the draft Bill?
Mr Goldsmith: I looked at this
in the sense that if I were a police constable who had to requisition
property or state that property would be destroyed, it would make
my life a lot easier if I could say to the person who owned it,
"You will be compensated for it." It is as simple as
that, rather than the hypothetical question of whether one should
in theory pay for that or not. In practical terms, for the officer
on the beat or, I guess, the fire officer, being able to say to
someone, "I have to destroy this house," for whatever
reason it is, "but there will be compensation," is a
lot easier than: "I've got to destroy this house." "Will
I get paid for it?" "I don't know about that."
Mr Selwood: The essential element
of the provision of an effective ambulance service is clearly
ambulances. They are not in huge numbers around the country, so,
by necessity, we would have to rely on other sources. Double-decker
buses come to mind: they have been used quite effectively on occasions
to move minor patients and that is on a "need" basis
come the day. An obvious source would be the plethora of private
ambulances that has grown up around the country. However, they
are subject to no statutory inspection, no control mechanism that
I can uncover. We are working with them on a voluntary basis but
there is no statutory basis for us to inspect them, to hold them
to account for quality of standards of medical care or ... The
Committee may wish to consider that in their deliberations.
Q64 Mr Clappison: I have cast my
eye over this section but perhaps not in enough detail. Would
the powers enable you, for example, to take under your control
such private ambulances for the public good?
Mr Selwood: I think they would.
The issue is before that, in that they have to be in a proper
and fit state to deliver. Really I think the Bill as drafted would
allow us the power. Whether one would want to rely on it or not
Q65 Mr Clappison: You would like
to see the powers go further, so as maybe to inspect them beforehand
to see what use could be made of them.
Mr Selwood: Exactly.
Mr Goldsmith: My reading of that
is that one could requisition property in that way but not necessarily
require individuals to drive them on your behalf. Ambulances,
I do not know, I would not talk about that, but in terms of heavy
lifting gear, for example, if one wanted to requisition that for
a rescue I would guess that the skill needed actually to operate
that would be very specialised and would be very difficult to
find outside of that industry, and yet there is no power in the
regulations to require the individual to operate that machinery
on your behalf.
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: Thank you.
That is very helpful.
Q66 Earl of Shrewsbury: First, what
lessons were learned from the fuel crisis and the outbreak of
foot and mouth? Secondly, how would the arrangements proposed
in the Bill compare with and relate to those under which fire
and civil defence authorities currently undertake off-site planning
under the Control of Major Accidents Hazards Regulations (COMAH),
the Pipeline Safety Regulations (PSR), the Radiation (Emergency
Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations?
Mr Dobson: If I may deal with
the second part of that question first, our association does have
some concerns that currently the only fire and civil defence authority
that would retain responsibility under COMAH, REPPIR, etcetera,
the regulations that feature in the question, is the London Fire
and Emergency Planning Authority. We are concerned at that because
that we feel does not take sufficient account of the fire and
civil defence authorities in supporting metropolitan boroughs
and discharging those responsibilities. We have not seen the regulations
that would support the Bill yet, so we are not sure exactly how
the responsibility for COMAH and REPPIR, etcetera, would actually
be discharged after the advent of the Bill, so we would seek to
be consulted further during the development of the regulations
to see how that is actually going to be covered. We feel there
has been some excellent work in previous years by fire and civil
defence authorities in discharging those regulations and we feel
that we would not want to see that lost.
Mr Goldsmith: In terms of lessons
learned from fuel and the outbreak of foot and mouth, perhaps
one could be mischievous and say let the emergency services manage
them. My view of that is that there was a lack of coordination
and clear leadership, whereas in many disasters or major emergencies
immediately there is a command structure put in place, a strategic
coordinating group that then deals with it and then picks it up.
We heard in the previous session of some doubts about the concept
of a lead government department. I think there are some areas
where it is unclear as to which government department will take
the lead and, indeed, are they then practised in managing emergency
situations in a way that is perhaps more normal for blue-light
services to deal?
Mr Selwood: If I may refer back
to my earlier answer about consequence management, in the fuel
crisis, where there was a vulnerability in terms of, for instance,
the provision of fuel to ambulances, we had to rely on colleagues
from the fire service to ensure that provision was maintained.
I think that the lessons that were learned there were really reinforcing
lessons of before, of the need to work together on those occasions,
but with a clear lead, as Alan says, to ensure that there is an
Q67 Lord Lucas: What sort of structures
would you like to see in place so that when we get to the next
fuel crisis or foot and mouth crisis it runs smoothly?
Mr Goldsmith: An interesting question.
The issue would be: Would one then look for a specific example
to work on? That is where the lead government department concept
might prove difficult, in the sense that there is such a range
of potential emergencies that one would have to have people from
all those backgrounds to then take part in that training. I do
not want to put extra work CCS's way, they have enough to do with
the Bill, but a lead given there to direct which department takes
it on. An example of the potential for disagreement was in looking
at work on mass evacuations and the question of which government
department would actually lead on mass evacuations. You can probably
give it to three or four different departments quite legitimately
and there is no clear lead. That is where the issues come, about
taking command at an early stage.
Mr Selwood: Both Ron and I work
in London and the London Resilience Forum has been a very effective
forum in bringing around that structure which ensures that one
looks across the piste. As Alan says, above that, the Civil Contingency
Secretariat. Speaking from a London perspective, the existence
of the resilience forums has actually been very helpful in broadening
the debate ahead of any disaster.
Q68 Lord Archer of Sandwell: The
draft Bill is proposing that regulations made under the Bill should
be treated, as you know, as though they are the primary legislation,
so that the courts are in effect excluded from striking them down.
Would you be in favour of that?
Mr Goldsmith: I support the view
in the Bill in the sense that often, in dealing in response to
emergency, urgent action is needed. For example, one might wish
to use regulation 21 in terms of cordoning an area, which deals
with the free movement of individuals, either to keep them in
an area for decontamination or, indeed, to exclude them from an
area. If that was subject to possible injunction there and then,
that would make it extremely difficult. The mere fact that it
would be primary legislation would not prevent subsequent challenge,
in my view, through the courts, but it would prevent that stopping
something which was necessary at the time for the greater good.
Q69 Lord Archer of Sandwell: Injunctions
are of course discretionary. Would you not be prepared to trust
the courts to exercise that discretion?
Mr Goldsmith: It is a question
of time: how quickly that could be done, and who would then present
the case. We would have to present a case for it to be done, to
then talk through or present it to the court. So there is an issue
of timing there which is the main concern.
Mr Selwood: I would just add that
the issue of proportionality would always have to be defended
afterwards. That is a matter of professional judgment by the services
that are involved. One has to work hard at understanding the scope
of that proportionality in advance of an incident rather than
during the incident. But to limit powers on the day would, I think,
as Alan says, seriously compromise the effective delivery of any
Q70 Lord Archer of Sandwell: The
risk would be that a judge would take a different view from the
Mr Selwood: I understand the risk.
Q71 Mr Clappison: In an emergency
such as this and the urgency of the situation, whatever the judges
and lawyers may think later are there not advantages for your
members in having the risk of legal action removed as a possibility
in the speed and quality of their decision-making in responding
to an action and to an emergency?
Mr Goldsmith: Legal action would
still be possible after the event, as Philip said. The issue would
be if one wanted to cordon an area and someone there and then
said, "I am a lawyer, I am now going to do this and get an
injunction." Potentially that could cause concern for those
trying to carry out their duties.
Q72 Kali Mountford: May I move on
to regionalism for a moment. Will the new regional tier in civil
protection be useful in planning for and dealing with an emergency?
Are the duties expected at the various levels of local, regional
and central government sufficiently clear and practical?
Mr Goldsmith: I have already given
a view of the regional tier in the planning phase and, as I said,
there are some larger area issues such as temporary mortuaries
and evacuation. In terms of response, I think there is some question
as to what additional benefit that will give other than a source
of information to and from central government. The term is "regional
nominated coordinator"not a commander, a coordinatortherefore
ensuring that people work together. There are some scenarios,
such as foot and mouth, where there might be benefit in that coordination
at a regional level. But of course a regional nominated coordinator
would not take up post until there was a pretty severe state and
a state of emergency had been declared, so I think we are talking
about the very exceptional circumstances.
Q73 Kali Mountford: As you have moved
on to the regional nominated coordinator, what sort of person
do you envisage that being? Is it necessary for that person to
have specialist knowledge or should their particular skill perhaps
be in the leadership and coordination?
Mr Goldsmith: It is a balance.
If one was seeking to coordinate an incident, then my view is
that in most cases it is better to have someone who is aware of
the specifics of that incident. If it was a chemical or biological
or radiological attack with terrorist implications, then it would
be beneficial to have a chief constable in that role of co-ordinating
response to that with other agencies involved as well. If there
is a health issue, then my view is it would be more advantageous
to have a health professionalthe Regional Director of Public
Health, for examplein that role. It is about coordinating.
It is about resources. I think Brian Ward made the point previously:
resources and information flow to and from government. The view,
as I see it, in the Bill is not that this would be a level above
"gold" commander who would then dictate what would happen.
As I said, we would not get to regional nominated coordinator
unless a state of emergency had been declared, so it is a pretty
unusual event and of significant scale.
Q74 Kali Mountford: Do you not think
that each region should have such a person in the event of that
scale of emergency? Do you see it as a necessary role or not necessary
Mr Goldsmith: I see it as a role
that could add benefit provided the definition of that role were
clearly laid down. But the individual would be appointed at the
time, as I think the Bill suggests, to fulfil that function and
that function on that occasion only.
Mr Selwood: There is a tension
implicit in your question between having a specialist versus a
generalist. I think with the benefit of some experience that the
more you can move towards specialists who are generalists at a
very high level, who have both the detailed knowledge of the issues
that they are facing and the skill to pull together other agencies,
is absolutely essential to the management of such incidents. I
think, as Alan says, it has to be left to the specific type of
event to determine who might be the best person. Before the event
we have to do a lot of work in broadening the scope of people
who in other worlds would have lived in quite an insular environment
dealing with a single topic issue.
Q75 Kali Mountford: Would it always
be the case that the person with most specialist knowledge would
also have, as a rare being, all the other leadership skills that
would be needed in that event? Which would you favour, the specialism
over generality or . . .
Mr Selwood: I would always go
for the generalist, but I would want to be assisted very closely
by somebody who has a deep and specialist knowledge about the
item with which we are dealing.
Mr Dobson: As far as regional
coordination is concerned, I think one of the things we need to
remember is that the sort of scale of incident we are starting
to plan for and under which these powers have actually been brought
into being, is liable to be on a scale which is going to be outside
of normal, small local boundaries. Therefore, the role of a regional
coordinator or planned coordination on a regional basis is of
course of assistance because if we have regional plans that could
be put into effect already identified, already practised, then
there is benefit in that. That is really what the role of regional
coordinator in the planning scenario should be, to make sure that
appropriate plans are in place at a smaller scale, and that those
are coordinated in order to provide an effective regional response
should that be necessary because of the scale of the incident.
As far as the skills of the person involved, I think they should
change depending on what phase you are in. If you are still in
the planning phase, then a generalist person who has organisational
and coordination skills is exactly the right type of person. As
you get into the incident itself, then it may well lead itself
to a more specialist type person to be able to deal with the specific
nature of the incident with which you are dealing. There is always
going to be a balance to be struck there between the coordination
of planning skills and the specialist knowledge to deal with an
actual incident that has occurred.
Q76 Mr Jones: Is it not important
that the role of this individual is actually clarified? I accept
what Mr Goldsmith says, that this person is going to be in a coordinator
role, but is there not a danger that in crisis he could turn into
a Captain Mannering character who actually tries to take control
away from, for example, the operational side on a day-to-day basis?
Would it not be better to have someone who is already in the chain
of command; for example, a local chief constable or somebody who
is already at operational level? Is there not a danger here that
you are going to have somebody above them, who has no accountability
to anybody really apart from themselves, who could perhaps cut
across, for example, the accountability that you have as a chief
constable to your local police authorities and others, and that
you would get confusion rather than the clear action which is
needed in emergencies?
Mr Goldsmith: There is that danger,
and that is why it has to be a coordinating role rather than a
command role. Certainly at one regional resilience forum I attended
there were suggestions that there should be one or two people
pre-nominated for that role. The difficulty then is in terms of
availability. We are talking about an incident that could happen
at any time. One needs to make sure that the person has sufficient
knowledge to do it, has the time to do it, and perhaps has the
right approach to it as well. If it were a terrorist event over
a number of forces, then the chief constable in the force in which
the event kicked off would probably be the "gold" commander
in that force anyway and therefore would not be available to become
the coordinator on a regional basis.
Q77 Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: Ron
I think made the point about the breadth in which an emergency
could occur. It appears to me that one of the arguments is that
really the hazard may occur over a number of local authorities.
If we get these together, any of the organisations, it could still
happen across regions. Have we resolved anything in terms of the
regional concept? Could I perhaps suggest that if we had some
sort of standing committee, with real experts in terms of policing,
health or a group of those specialities sitting there liaising
with all the effective administrative bodies, that in fact we
might have a better answer. They could then decide, when the emergency
occurs, where are the groupings. There will have been liaising
and we could work on that basis. I know, Mr Chairman, you are
probably horrified at that question, but it is a question that
might well be asked at this stage.
Mr Goldsmith: I think it is a
very valid point. The regions in some cases are purely arbitrary.
For example, East Midlands, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire
are both in East Midlands and have absolutely nothing to do with
each other, quite frankly. You would not automatically put them
Q78 Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: Nor
any day-to-day functions.
Mr Goldsmith: None at all. There
are no transport links whatsoever. One of the biggest risks, in
my view, that the country faces in terms of emergency is further
major east coast flooding. It will happen at some time. It might
be next year, it might be in 50 years time. Major east coast flooding
would affect a number of English regions but some of them only
affect one police force area in each region; East Midlands, for
example, or Humberside in Yorkshire. The regional structure is
useful as a mechanism to get people together, to talk together,
but it might not necessarily be the best in terms of response.
So there is that issue. On the other point, I think there is a
lack of a national resilience forum. We have the local resilience
forums, the regional forums; there is no national resilience forum
at which our associations, at which LGA, EPS and others, could
actually meet to discuss that type of issue. I think it is disappointing
that there is no provision for a national forum to look at these
Q79 Lord Roper: Would that be a English
regional forum or would it be a UK forum?
Mr Goldsmith: I think there is
benefit in UK, although the complexities of devolved administration
and the legal process is more difficult for me to cope with.
Lord Roper: In the same way that flooding
does not recognise regional boundaries.
Chairman: Gentlemen, thank you very much
indeed. We will meet again at 4.30.