Clause 26 - Parliamentary scrutiny

Part of Civil Contingencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 10th February 2004.

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Photo of Mr Richard Allan Mr Richard Allan Shadow Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, Cabinet Office, Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry) 4:15 pm, 10th February 2004

There is a lot of merit in the ideas put forward by the hon. Member for Newark, particularly in relation to the kind of dire emergencies that have been described. Every effort should be made to seek cross-party agreement on any regulations laid under the Bill. The specific and privileged role of Privy Councillors is important. Having already discussed Orders in Council, we are again grappling with arcane parts of the British constitution. Privy Councillors could have a significant role, and perhaps, more so when events are developing in a dangerous fashion. It is entirely appropriate to consider whether the Government can assure us that they would, at least, seek to involve a wider range of people than themselves, and to take alternative counsel.

Following a slightly heated exchange earlier, we recognise that the authority to take action in such situations duly rests with the elected Government but it would be in their interests to involve others, particularly Privy Councillors, and that would give emergency regulations additional force.