Orders of the Day — Civil Defence (Grant) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:40 pm on 28th November 2001.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Croydon Central 7:40 pm, 28th November 2001

I believe that true need will be addressed. The alternative is to do nothing and face the uncertainty of a blank-cheque situation. If that happens, we will not know how much money will be spent or where it will be spent. It is important to have a rational basis that is flexible and targets money appropriately to the areas of need.

The grants will be cash-limited and formula-driven, but there will be opportunities for project-based financing. There is also an option for Ministers to exercise discretion. Although we can plan rationally for various scenarios, we must consider that the nature of disaster and terrorism is uncertainty, and the planning system might have different configurations for different places. For instance, the needs of London are different from those of other towns, cities and villages.

The formula offers an opportunity for rational targeting, formula-driven, project-based funding and some discretion. Alongside that, I am pleased that there is a chance to have a service level agreement to ensure that consistent and growing standards of service delivery are met. In the past, we did not have the quality assurance or the means to ensure that we got the output that the public require and the value for money that we demand.

I am pleased to support the Bill. From the local government point of view, the Government clearly intend to consult the Local Government Association further. Some authorities might have irrationally overspent and not be delivering high-quality services. That will be addressed. In time, the wider needs of the legislation will be a consideration. Basically, the Bill offers an opportunity to deliver the level and quality of service that we need for emergency planning and to provide value for money for the taxpayer.