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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I regret to say that the Government cannot support the amendment—perhaps for the reasons that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, has just made clear. We are replacing Acts that have stood us in good stead for 84 and 56 years respectively. It has never been suggested that the 1920 Act, in particular, was not needed; nor can it be said that it has been used in a disproportionate or inappropriate way. It has been used appropriately and judiciously by governments of various complexions in order to meet the emergency needs of the people that they have served.

The Bill is designed to enhance the resilience of the United Kingdom. It delivers a new framework for civil protection and a mechanism for making temporary regulations, where necessary, in the worst emergencies. I do not in any way take away from the importance of our critical analysis of the minute detail of the Bill. But I remind your Lordships that the Bill has generally been greatly welcomed by many as a significant improvement on what has gone before it. It is sometimes easy to forget the plaudits that were showered by all sides upon the work of the Joint Committee and upon the work carried out on the draft Bill, but I think that we should remember that now.

The need for the legislation does not disappear. I wish I could say to the noble Baroness that the kind of contingencies for which we are planning will disappear in a year. I wish I could say that the legislation will not be necessary as we shall not have floods, the threat of terrorism attacks or any such things and that, in a year's time, all will be well. But that is not the world in which we live and we all know that that is not the truth. We must plan for the world in which we now find ourselves, and at times that is a very dangerous place.

Part 1 establishes a framework for local civil protection planning. There is no reason why it should lapse after one year. The framework that it will deliver will remain necessary. The risks that it addresses are long-term generic matters, such as flooding, which unfortunately will still be with us for years to come. Part 1 is deliberately designed to allow that framework to be updated over time. The details of the duties that
 
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it contains will be set out in regulations and guidance, and the lists of responder organisations covered by them can be amended.

Therefore, there will be opportunities to revisit parts of the Bill when we consider affirmative resolutions and when we come to review the legislation. But the framework or structure will remain in place because it will be needed. So, by time-limiting or calling into question this sensible planning framework every year, we would succeed only in undermining the certainty that is needed for effective long-term planning and investment at the local level. That is why we have put huge investment into this matter; that is why the Government increased their commitment to local authorities; and that is why we want to build stability. Such planning will be necessary for us all for a very long time.

Part 2 is an enabling mechanism that will provide the necessary powers to deal with a large range of emergencies, including catastrophic terrorist attacks, flooding or disruption to essential services and resources. While the Government hope that the need for such a mechanism does not exist in a year's time, as I have said already, that is unlikely to be the case.

It is the Government's view that sunsetting legislation is appropriate where the powers that it contains are expected no longer to be needed after a certain length of time or where their application should be reviewed by Parliament. This is not appropriate for a piece of enabling legislation that simply creates a mechanism for the creation of temporary legislation.

It should be noted that existing emergency powers legislation, as we have already said, lasts for a very long time. I know that no one in the Chamber would like to give me a time when, they reasonably anticipate, the legislation will no longer be necessary. It falls foul of the criterion that we usually use to apply a sunset clause. I would love to be able to say that we could sunset it. If I could, I would sunset it for six months, but it is not possible. That is not the world in which we live.

The key point to bear in mind is that Part 2 itself does nothing. It is simply a mechanism to make temporary legislation that sits there until it is needed.
 
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The regulations that may be made, using the mechanism, will actually affect people in the real world. Emergency regulations under the Bill will be scrutinised by Parliament. If I have learnt anything in the past five years, it is to anticipate that they will receive the most rigorous, the most vigorous and the most wholesale scrutiny of any legislation. I rely on the House to do just that.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her response. With all due respect, I believe that the Minister has missed the point. We are not saying that all will be well a year from now. I entirely agree with the Minister on that. I wish that, in moving the amendment, we were contending that—far from it.

The reason we proposed the amendment is that we believe that it is tremendously important to revisit these extraordinarily wide provisions on a regular basis. The reality is that the stakes in terms of terrorism may change, so we believe that it is necessary to revisit the provisions, given that they are so wide-ranging, particularly in Part 2. The idea that proposing such an amendment means that we assume that matters will improve is far from the case.

We believe that a sunset clause, given the wide-ranging, enabling powers in the Bill, would probably be the most important clause of the Bill. I urge the Minister to consider the amendment in a different light and from a different perspective between now and Third Reading. Sadly, the world in which we live is extremely dangerous, and we should revisit those dangers and revisit the breadth of powers in the Bill on a very regular basis. We suggest that that should be done annually, mirroring the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act. There is such a sunset clause in that Act and, therefore, I cannot see why the Government should not accept the necessity for a similar clause in this Bill. I urge the Minister to consider those points, but at this late hour, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Civil Partnership Bill [HL]

Bill returned from the Commons agreed to with amendments and with a privilege amendment; it was ordered that the Commons amendments be printed.

Written Statements

Tuesday 9 November 2004.


 
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Warship Support Agency Targets 2004–05

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Defence (Mr Adam Ingram) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Key targets have been set for the chief executive of the WSA for the financial year 2004–05 as follows:
TitleDetailsTarget
KT 1a: Provision of available force element daysThe measurement of the number of days when the material condition of a vessel enables it to perform its scheduled task on that day.To provide Commander-in-Chief Fleet (CINCFLEET) with the target level of available force element days agreed in the CINCFLEET/Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) customer supplier agreement (CSA).
KT 1b: Provision of ready force element daysThe measurement of the number of days when the material state of a vessel enables it to meet its required readiness category.To provide CINCFLEET with the target level of the ready force element days agreed in the CINCFLEET/DLO customer supplier agreement (CSA).
KT 2: Timely completion of upkeep periodsThe measurement of the amount by which the upkeep periods overrun.To meet the planned delivery dates for vessels undergoing deep maintenance and repair within the agreed upkeep factor tolerance.
KT 3: Timely completion of the high priority capability improvement programmeThe measurement of the number of high priority upgrades implemented in accordance with the agreed and published installation plan.To fit 87 per cent of the high priority, type A capability improvements (alterations and additions—A&A) selected by the equipment capability customer (ECC).
KT 4: Provision of single living accommodationThe measurement of the increase in available single living accommodation (SLA).To provide CINCFLEET, 2SL/CNH and naval base lodger units with the required quantity and quality of single living accommodation for their entitled personnel, as articulated in DLO CSA.
KT 5: Provision of operational support services at the naval basesThe measurement of the delivery of operational support services to a satisfactory standard.To provide CINCFLEET with the operational support services articulated in DLO customer supplier agreements (CSA) at the agreed ISO 9000 quality management standard.
KT 6: Maintenance of WSA capacity to support the Naval Force Generation PlanThe assurance that the agency has the capacity to contribute to the Naval Force Generation Plan.To achieve a satisfactory assessment against all elements of the agency's contribution to the Naval Force Generation Plan.
KT 7: Delivering planned efficienciesThe measurement of the delivery of planned efficiencies.To ensure delivery of 90 per cent of the planned efficiency savings in the DLO benefits tracking tool that are scheduled to be achieved this financial year.

 
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Commemorative Coin: Second World War

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr Gordon Brown) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to approve my recommendation that a £2 coin should be issued in 2005 commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Collector versions of the coin will be released at a premium above face value and, during the course of the year, the coin will also become available at its face value from banks and post offices.


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