Clause 4 - Advice and assistance to business

Part of Civil Contingencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 29th January 2004.

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Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander Minister of State (Cabinet Office) and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 2:45 pm, 29th January 2004

Operation Osiris, which I recollect took place in September, was only the latest in a number of exercises that the Government have undertaken. It is important at this stage in the Committee's deliberations to address a misperception that may be creeping into some of the analysis being offered on the Bill. It is important to recognise that the Bill is designed to update the framework of civil

protection in this country. I can assure the Committee that, quite apart from the need to modernise the legislative framework, a whole strain of work has been taken forward to strengthen the resilience capabilities not only of the Government, but of the emergency services in the wider sense. That is why, in the previous Budget, there was an allocation of, if I recollect correctly, about £300 million across a range of Departments to fight terrorism. That was for local responders and to fund counter-terrorism work.

It would be wholly wrong to suggest that the time scale for legislative change was not preceded by a range of other work. That work has been taken forward principally by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, but also by a range of other Departments. Operation Osiris formed only one part of a wide range of work that has been taken forward in relation not only to London, but to civil contingency planning across the UK more generally. If the hon. Gentleman would care to look back at the record of our previous deliberations, he will see that I referred to some of the exercises that the Government have undertaken since 11 September.