Joint Committee on Draft Civil Contingencies Bill Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum from United Utilities

  I note from the Chairman's closing remarks that written submissions on the remaining questions were invited.

  For completeness I attach my answers to Questions 13-15.


Q13.   What level of consultation do you think there should be on regulations issued under Part 1 of the draft Bill?

  It is essential that the relevant utility organisations or their representative sector bodies (for example: Water UK, the Electricity Association and the telecoms body UKCTA), are consulted prior to formulating regulations. This consultation should also extend to regulatory bodies including Ofwat, Ofgem, Oftel/OFCOM, the Drinking Water Inspectorate and the Environment Agency.


Q14.   United Utilities have raised concerns that emergency powers will have a life of 30 days before lapsing or requiring renewal: "Category 2 responders may have been required under such powers to take actions that are contrary to normal regulations and good practice. This could result in operational commitements that are impossible to decommission rapidly should the powers not be renewed". What kind of protection would you like to see under these circumstances?

  UU wishes to see utilities being protected from liability for non-compliance with standards, regulations, codes of practice, industry good practice etc where such non compliance is a consequence of the utility complying with instructions or commitments made under emergency powers, even though such powers may have lapsed. This protection from liability should remain in force for such a period as the utility may reasonably require to resume its normal service provision and practices, including the prompt de-commissioning and removal of any necessary temporary works.


Q15.   BT has suggested that emergency regulations should not be treated as primary legislation for the purposes of the Human Rights Act because "it would leave individuals or organisations exposed to legal challenge should individuals or organisations feel that their human rights have been infringed by those companies' implementation of emergency regulations." Can you explain this concern in greater detail and suggest how you think it might be overcome?

  No comment.

Geoffrey Miller

29 October 2003.

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