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Lord Lucas: My Lords, the Bill is all about looking forward. It is not hard for, say, Tesco, to set up a system to supply emergency food to a flooded East Anglia, should that ever happen, from its big distribution centre near East Anglia. But, if it has not been arranged beforehand, when the time comes, two days will be spent arguing because Tesco will not want lorries driving up and taking away undocumented loads of goods. It will not have been thought about.
It seems to me that if we are going to plan for big emergencies then we ought to do it now for all the large vital services that are likely to be concerned. I agree that those poor services should not be stuffed into every quarterly meeting of local forums but they must be involved because, come anything serious, the planning has to be in place. So I very much support the amendments in the names of the noble Lord,
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Lord Berkeley, and of my noble friend and I hope that the Government will be able to make progress in this direction.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I apologise in advance for what will be a long response. Noble Lords have raised important points that require a response. Some of the issues have been rehearsed before but it is right that we put on the record why we are proceeding in this way. I enter that as a caveat to what I am now going to go through.
In essence, the amendments probe the rationale for inclusion in category 2. Other amendments in the group ensure that the regulatory burdens on category 2 responders are kept to a minimum. There are also some government amendments in this group that are largely technical but which require the explanation sought by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe.
The best place to start is by setting out why we have category 2 responders, and what we require of them. We have subjected the civil protection framework in Part 1 to two public consultations, to pre-legislative scrutiny and to a very thorough regulatory impact assessment process. The list of category 2 responders is based on experience and is widely supported by category 1 organisations. I urge noble Lords to bear that in mind when considering these amendments.
Local responder bodies have variable roles and involvement in local civil protection. To ensure that the duties imposed by the Bill are proportionate to the role organisations play in civil protection, the Bill splits local responders into two categories, and imposes a different set of duties on each. Category 1 responders are the core orqanisations that are most likely to be closely involved in preparing for, and responding to, most incidents. This category includes emergency services and local authorities. They are subject to the full range of civil protection duties; risk assessment, emergency planning and warning and informing the public. On the other hand, category 2 responders are co-operating responders, which are less likely to be involved in the heart of multi-agency planning work but will be heavily involved in incidents that affect their activities.
The duties of category 2 bodies are much less demanding and reflect their supporting role. Category 2 responders will be required to co-operate with category 1 responders through local resilience forums only and to supply relevant information when asked to do so. Category 2 responders are generally organisations that already have direct responsibilities to the public, either because they administer risk sources or because they deliver essential services. In most cases, category 2 responders are already subject to a range of sector-specific civil protection duties by virtue of their licensing or regulatory activity. For example, the Water Act sets out requirements in terms of the amount of water to be supplied to households in the event of an emergency.
We have given these bodies a more limited set of obligations in order to avoid confusion or conflict with their particular and specific regimes. The objective here is to ensure that category 2 responders
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are more closely engaged with wider multi-agency planning. Category 2 status does not mean that they are subject to the direction of category 1 responders locally, nor does it mean that they are no longer subject to sector-specific regulatory regimes on a national basis.
What is the rationale for inclusion and exclusion within these categories? There are two principal criteria for inclusion in category 2. They are, first, being an organisation that operates a risk source or, secondly, being an organisation that has a role to play in responding to emergencies. In other words, to use the terminology of the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, those who are a risk and those who are there to be helpful.
There are also two key criteria for excluding bodies from category 2 responders. The first is that some bodies are already covered by other arrangements. The Bill is focused on local arrangements for responder bodies that have an operational role in emergencies. It does not directly concern itself with national arrangements in relation to the critical national infrastructure, which fall outside its local focus. They are a matter for the lead government department to manage. For example, the Department of Trade and Industry, as the lead government department, co-ordinates a national fuel contingency plan. To take up the issue raised by the noble Baroness, it ensures that fuel suppliers and other key stakeholders are involved appropriately in the contingency planning process. While there may be a local response to its consequences, the root cause of a major disruption to fuel supplies is likely to be systemic and is best dealt with nationally.
As noble Lords may be aware, well-established regulatory regimes exist for civil contingency planning for major chemical and nuclear hazards. The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH) and the Radiation (Emergency Planning and Preparedness) Regulations (REPRR) set out clear multi-agency arrangements for managing the risks associated with particular sites and for managing the consequences of incidents when they occur. The Bill does not trespass on those regimes. In order to avoid unnecessary duplication and confusion, both COMAH and REPPR have been carved out of the Bill by way of regulations.
Secondly, inclusion in the framework is governed by practical considerations. While we might wish to bring in more bodies than we have currently, we need to be careful not to overburden the local arrangement infrastructure. Priority has been given to those bodies that local responders themselves judged to be important, and some bodies that we might like to have includedfor example, buses and road freighthave been excluded for this reason. In a moment, I will explain how we have applied that rationale to the various sectors about which noble Lords have concerns, in particular, transport. But, first, I will address the nature of this engagement at the local level. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Garden, is concerned about the regulatory burden that category 2 status will impose on private sector organisations. The noble Lord's amendment would provide that regulations
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made under clause 2 could require only co-operation that was efficient. That is an understandable objective, in which I can see some merit.
The Government are already committed to striking the right balance between establishing what are necessarily robust civil protection arrangements and ensuring that we keep the regulatory burdens on business to a minimum. So right from the start we are engaged with that issue. We think that we have got the balance right. We went through a very thorough regulatory impact assessment process on the Bill. Its conclusion was that the regulatory impact on the private sector is small and that the costs are significantly outweighed by the benefits.
We estimated that the costs of the Bill to the private sector are likely to be between £1,060 and £2,310 per local resilience forum (LRF) area. We have worked closely with the widest range of category 2 bodies to keep this burden to a minimum. The regulations will require category 2 responders to attend meetings only when category 1 responders judge it to be necessaryfor example, when their sector is being discussed.
The current draft regulations provide that responders need to be "effectively represented" at local resilience forums. That means that one company could represent the whole sector at an LRF or another responder could represent them where appropriate. The guidance will give a clear steer on what is reasonable in terms of information demands and will ensure that the burden of information demands is kept to a minimum.
We have also made it clear that by proactively making information available, category 2 responders will effectively choke off demand for individual pieces of information, which can become very burdensome. We are committed to minimising regulatory burdens. In fact, it is fair to say that we have been careful to accommodate the concerns of private sector firms; I can see every reason for the private sector to play its part in civil protection arrangements alongside the public and voluntary sectors. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, in a sense made the case for their involvement.
But that should not come at the expense of effective civil protection arrangements and improved public safety. Category 1 respondersthat is, the police, fire and local government serviceshave all emphasised to us the importance of ensuring that category 2 responders are engaged in local arrangements. We must not ask them to take forward that important work without the tools to do the job effectively.
There are a number of amendments in this group that relate to the transport industry. To summarise, some noble Lords would like to add additional responders and others would like to remove them; sometimes I think that the same noble Lord wants to do both things at once. But that perhaps is beyond our wit.
Transport responders must be involved in local civil protection arrangements. If the case needed to be made, it was made very well as a product of this weekend's
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tragic events in Ufton Nervet in Berkshire. There was an excellent multi-agency response, which gave us a clear illustration of why that is. In the first instance, we have focused on bringing in the infrastructure managersthat is, Network Rail, the ports, the Highways Agency and airports. Probably, there would be a consensus on the importance of having them involved.
There is then of course the secondary question of how we approach the operators who use the infrastructure. Essentially, there are three options. All the companies could be brought in at oncethe "big bang" approach which would risk overburdening local arrangements; a point that I made earlier. There could be the mirror image of that: they could all be excluded. That risks excluding some bodies that self-evidently are crucial to local civil protection arrangements, which would include passenger train companies and organisations that are currently closely involved in the provision of a service. The final option is that there might be what we see as the pragmatic approach of going through a process with local responders to decide which of these sectors is of most concern to them.
In keeping with what generally has been recognised as the pragmatic and consultative approach that we have taken throughout the Bill process, we have opted for the third option. We have determined that we should do what works best in practice, not what works best in theory.
It is self-evidently important to bring in the passenger train companies now. Thankfully, despite this weekend's tragic event, rail accidents are rare, but when they occur they often haveas demonstrated by the accident at the weekendvery major implications.
My noble friend Lady Scotland and I have said in correspondence to our noble friend Lord Berkeley that freight trains represent a source of risk in terms of causing a major incident in a way which experience has shown that road freight simply does not on the same scale. The noble Lord pointed out to me in recent discussions
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