Clause 3 - Section 2: supplemental

Civil Contingencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 29th January 2004.

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Question proposed [27 January], That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Question again proposed.

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander Minister of State (Cabinet Office) and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

The hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) suggested in his contribution to the debate that the guidance might require organisations in category 2 to commit considerable resources to the response to emergencies. If I recollect correctly, he suggested the possibility of hiring satellites.

It would, therefore, be helpful to make the purpose of the guidance clear to the Committee. The guidance is not a mechanism for instructing responders as to what to do in an emergency. It is a means by which we give responders detailed support and information, and advice on how to fulfil their obligations under part 1 of the Bill. In the case of utility companies, the duties are limited to co-operation and information sharing, most of which will take place through the proposed local resilience forums. It is difficult, therefore, to conceive of how that could require substantial investment in new equipment, let alone the hiring of a satellite.

The hon. Gentleman also asked when the guidance would become available; he rightly suggested that it would not be fair to allow the obligations included in the Bill to take effect without proper support. The Government agree, and that is why the guidance is already being developed. Indeed, it has been under development with stakeholders since the autumn.

The guidance will not be a step change; it will be a codification of existing best practice. It will not simply be imposed on practitioners. We are already committed to consultation on the regulations, following Royal Assent, but before they take effect. That consultation will also include discussion of the content of the guidance.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.