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Lord Berkeley: The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, has added significantly to some of the remarks I made earlier. She has made some very good suggestions. She mentioned that food distribution was not included, but I cannot see which amendment that comes under. However, I agree that it should be.
Amendment No. 83B refers to a person who distributes or produces petrol or diesel. That is interesting. If my noble friend rejects the amendment, having rejected my amendments, he will find that those who distribute petrol and diesel by rail will be included but those who do so by road will be excluded.
As to the petrol-tanker drivers' strike of a few years ago, to which the noble Baroness referred, she may not know that the only railway company in the country which has facilities for fuelling by rail is EWS Railways. All the passenger train operators and the other freight operators refuel by road. Heathrow Airport refuels by rail and pipeline; I think the others do it by road.
So if the Bill is not amended, and if there is another petrol-tanker drivers' strike, we shall be in exactly the same position as we were on the previous occasion; there will be no change at all. I suggest that there need to be discussions between now and the next stage of the Bill to see whether we can agree a more sensible list.
I agree with the noble Baroness about buses and coaches. Frankly, if there is an emergency, I would much rather get on a bus than on a train. A bus could go a different way if there was a blockage somewhere, whereas a train could get stuck in a tunnel.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I rise to speak in connection with Amendment No. 86B, which has been moved by my noble friend. There is not a breath of criticism implied in what I am about to ask, but I was once responsible for someone joining the board of Rolls-Royce as a non-executive director. At the end of his first meeting he wrote to the secretary of the
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company and said that there were 55 acronyms in the board papers and he was not prepared to come to another board meeting until he had been provided with a code. The Secretary sent him a list of 89 acronyms that were in use in the company and explained that he was meeting quite a number of them for the first time himself.
In the list in Amendment No. 86B, the names of two organisations are written out in full. The second on the list has a helpful parenthesis which indicates what it is. I can, by some stretch of my imagination, work out what the two last ones are, but I have no idea what CHEMET means. Unless this has already been discussed at an earlier stage in the Bill and I ought to know what it is, it would be helpful if we had slightly greater detail about what the acronyms are.
If we suffer a disaster which restricts our ability to move around and which is on a large scale, it seems that food will cause us the largest problem, fastest. We have all got so used to having the supermarket at the end of the road. Not many of us keep enormous stocks of food, although I think that my noble friend Lady Thatcher does. I suppose that we should all have a year's supply of baked beans and a gas mask to deal with the consequences. It would be a brave Government who assumed that there was more than a day or two's supply of food in the average home. That is the thing which will cause us pain and difficulty fastest, after, perhaps, the supply of water. Water is dealt with in the Bill, but food is not.
We could survive, in a personal sense, without fuel for quite a long time. We would just throw on an extra blanket or two and sit around waiting for things to get better. But we cannot survive without water and we cannot survive without food. If we put the population in a state where it is doubtful about the supply of food, we will see riots quicker than anything. So I hope that the Government will look at making sure that local authorities have a handle on where the food is in their area and the ability to secure that supply in cases where they think that that might become important.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: This group of amendments would add a range of bodies to the category 2 responders list. Again, the Government cannot accept the amendments, but I hope that I will, in some part, reassure noble Lords who have taken part in the debate as I explain why we do not, at this stage, plan to include the various bodies referred to in the category 2 responders list.
Let me start with broadcasters. This is a difficult one, and I can see some of the attractions of including media organisations. However, we have taken the view that it would not be appropriate to include them in the category 2 list. To make their participation in local civil protection arrangements a statutory requirement
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might impact on their independence as news reporters and news gatherers and may make them feel somewhat inhibited in any investigation they might want to undertake in the context of emergencies.
There are already long-standing arrangements in the BBC charter and agreement and in broadcasting legislation concerning broadcasters' contribution to defence and emergency arrangements. In practice, media organisations have shown themselves to be very valuable partners in local multi-agency plans for informing the public during and after an emergency. This is expected to continue under new arrangements. The guidance accompanying the legislation will reflect that expectation.
We think that compelling broadcasters to become involved is unnecessary and may harm the close and constructive set of relationships that are being developed between broadcasters and the local emergency planning community around the country.
On petrol and diesel producers and distributors, the noble Baroness, along with others, has suggested that fuel suppliersa key element of the critical national infrastructureshould be included as responders, presumably to give greater security to existing arrangements.
The Department of Trade and Industry, as the lead department for government, co-ordinates multi-agency contingency planning arrangements for the supply of fuel. That ensures that fuel suppliers are involved appropriately in the contingency planning process. The Bill is focused on local arrangements for responder bodies which have an operational role in emergencies. It is not directly concerned with national arrangements for critical national infrastructure, which is very much outside its local focus.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Clearly, it could in some circumstances become the subject of a terrorist attack or, given that any vehicle of that kind will contain a large amount petrol or diesel, it could become a risk in terms of being attacked in some way.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Baroness makes a fair point. The Underground is risky. One can imagine any number of scenarios where there may be a risk, but it is a risk source in certain circumstances.
The list of responders in Schedule 1 broadly reflects what exists at the moment and what works. As was mentioned when we were talking about road freight, there is a large number of bus and coach operators, many of which are very small. The new framework needs more time to settle in before it is overloaded with
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new responders. It might be helpful if I were to give some idea of the size of that sector. It comprises 8,300 licensed public service vehicle operators, which hold about 87,000 vehicle discs, with an average fleet size of about ten vehicles. They are very small operators and it would be extremely hard to integrate them into the arrangements in the way which is suggested in the amendment. While we do not want to overload the system with new responders, we have the flexibility to include operators of that nature if, at some later stage, it is appropriate to do so.
The amendment concerns also miscellaneous organisations that deal with chemical and nuclear hazards. It recommends including in category 2 a number of organisations involved in chemical and nuclear hazards: CHEMSAFE, RADSAFE and the National Radiological Protection Board. As noble Lords will be aware, well established regulatory regimes for civil contingency planning for major chemical and nuclear hazards already exist. The Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) and the Radiation (Emergency Planning and Preparedness) Regulations (REPPR) set out clear multi-agency arrangements for managing the risks associated with particular sites and managing the consequences of incidents when they occur. The Bill does not trespass on those regimes. In order to avoid unnecessary duplication and confusion, COMAH and REPPR have been carved out of the Bill by way of regulations. It is not appropriate to consider those bodies for inclusion in category 2.
However, many category 1 responders are closely involved in the implementation of those schemes; for example, CHEMSAFE, RADSAFE and NAIR. Local resilience forums will therefore be well sited.The NRPB, for example, already works very closely with the Health Protection Agency, which is a category 1 responder, and will be incorporated within it.
We have worked very closely with practitioners over two public consultations, and I think that the list of responders set out in Schedule 1 is the right one. As I have said before, however, the Bill is a flexible framework, and Clause 13 provides that responders can be added to or removed from that list. That provides Government with the opportunity to review and amend the framework in the light of experience. No doubt we will listen very carefully to comments made by the organisations that feel they ought to be on the list and see whether we need to amend and incorporate.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, made a point about the resilience of the food chain. In accordance with the lead government department's arrangements, Defra has in place contingency plans in relation to the supply of food. Food supply is indeed part of the critical national infrastructure, and some have suggested that food suppliers should be responders under the Bill. We do not think that there is a need to replicate existing arrangements which work well and place them on the face of the Bill. We think the arrangements that we have in place work well and that Defra, because of its
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responsibility, is well positioned to ensure that the food supply chain is resilient and robust in the face of the range of emergencies that we might envisage.
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