Preparing for Extreme Risks (RARPC Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 12 January 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Neville-Rolfe Baroness Neville-Rolfe Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 5:45, 12 January 2023

I think the noble Lord is right that the main focus is on the next five years, but I will perhaps come back to him to discuss that point further. It is clear from what I have been saying that we are looking at extreme risks, and they are not necessarily going to arrive tomorrow, so I understand and sympathise with the point he has made.

The second step is strengthening the crisis and resilience structures in the Cabinet Office with the creation, as I have said, of the resilience directorate and the COBRA unit. We are responsible for resilience planning and national crisis response, working closely with departments which have sectoral responsibilities. This includes identifying, planning and preparing for risks, and building capacity to respond effectively. The changes to how it is organised will help to ensure that the Government have the capacity and capability to respond to emergencies, which is obviously particularly important in the wake of Covid-19.

Thirdly, we are working to improve our resilience to chronic risks and vulnerabilities, such as climate change—which was emphasised by the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso—and artificial intelligence. We have recognised that this type of risk poses continuous challenges over time to communities, the economy and security, and requires a different type of response to more acute risks, such as flooding or terrorism.

The scale of the risks we face has required a new strategic approach to resilience. That is why we published the UK Government Resilience Framework in December, which previously had the working title of “national resilience strategy”, to respond to a point made by several noble Lords. It is a new strategy which is already being implemented across government. It reflects our ongoing commitment to resilience which we made in last year’s integrated review, and the new strategic approach will be reflected in further publications this year, with the refreshed national risk register, the updated biological security strategy, and the update to the integrated review itself, which has also been promised.