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6.52 pm

Mr. Leslie: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

In the vast amount of time that we have for Third Reading, I wish to point out that the Bill is a modest yet important measure, designed to re-establish good practice in the budget-making process in a small area of policy—the funding of emergency planning preparation in local authorities throughout England and Wales. It does not specify the sums of money to be allocated in the next financial year for civil defence grant; it is concerned solely with the mechanism and framework for doing so, allowing Ministers legally to set a grant in the first place.

We are endeavouring to re-establish a fair and equitable means to distribute the grant; that is the Bill's precise remit. However, it also provides a number of useful opportunities to pay tribute, as Opposition Members have done, to the sterling work of emergency planning officers the length and breadth of the country. In Committee and on Report, we considered questions of finance and money. Following the Merseyside legal challenge, which caused the demand-led system to be imposed, the Government now estimate that the level for this financial year and the next will settle at about £18.6 million, up from £14 million in the previous financial year.

I was pleased to announce in a parliamentary answer last Wednesday that following negotiations, we have completed our consideration of what is necessary and

28 Jan 2002 : Column 75

affordable. We have decided to maintain the total grant at about this year's level, currently estimated at £18.6 million, which is a satisfactory outcome to negotiations. We are looking at maintaining the 28 per cent. increase on the figure of £14 million for the previous financial year. Fears voiced earlier of cuts have proved groundless. The next stage is to decide how the grant will be distributed and what formula is to be used.

Much attention has focused on the discretion given to Ministers in the Bill, and I have sought to give assurances about those provisions. I have written to Committee members giving examples of legislation in which different formulae are applied to local authorities; I have also provided information about the formulae that might be applied in the distribution of grant. I can reassure the House that powers in the Bill are not unprecedented, will be used reasonably and will be based on rational judgments.

I am minded to use a formula to distribute civil defence grant, and anticipate that it will build on the one used most recently; I am still working on the details with officials. We will shortly be able to consult the Local Government Association in a genuine but rapid round of consultation; I am eager that local authorities should know their allocations as soon as possible. An emergency planning review is under way; assumptions have altered, and threats have changed since the Civil Defence Act 1948, which is no longer an adequate foundation. We need to bring civil defence functions more within the delivery of mainstream local government services. We aim to co-operate closely and develop our plans with local authorities and other representative bodies.

Future comprehensive reform may aim at improving the consistency of approach across the country and promoting best practice. Partnership and community leadership by local authorities is extremely important. Life in the United Kingdom is normally prosperous, peaceful and calm, but we always need to guard against those abnormal and rare threats which may endanger the life of the community, including the hazards of major accidents; the ravages of natural disasters; and the consequences of a deliberate hostile attack.

The Bill provides the means to fund part of that battle—advanced planning and preparation for civil contingencies at the local level. It may seem a technical measure, but it is essential that the whole nation is ready to cope with whatever eventualities befall us. Our debate today has highlighted the dedication and value of those involved in day-to-day civil contingency planning. I am glad that, should the circumstances ever arise, there are people with a wealth of skill and ability throughout the country who are ready, willing and able to deal with emergencies. It is for the sake of continuing a national strategic approach to civil defence funding that I commend the Bill to the House.

6.57 pm

Mr. Beith: The Bill is not needed because the figure for the next financial year has already been announced. If the Bill is used, it could result in some emergency planning authorities getting less money in the coming year than they did this year. The matter could, and should, be dealt with when the Government's civil defence review is completed and legislation is introduced to implement it.

28 Jan 2002 : Column 76

6.57 pm

Mr. Collins: There are 34 county emergency planning officers in England and Wales; no fewer than 24 have expressed strong opposition to the Bill. Patrick Cunningham, chief emergency planning officer for Durham and Darlington, says:

However, all that officers are getting is "negative legislation" which, Mr. Cunningham says,

Other professionals on whom we and our constituents rely for protection in a national emergency have variously described the Bill as a disaster, a disgrace and peculiarly ill-timed. It is the wrong legislation at the wrong time; we will oppose it.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 262, Noes 155.

Division No. 144
[6.58 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Benn, Hilary
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Galloway, George
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai
Healey, John
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Humble, Mrs Joan
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, Rt Hon Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kelly, Ruth
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Lucas, Ian
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall–Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Squire, Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Touhig, Don
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Fraser Kemp and
Jim Fitzpatrick.


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Bacon, Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Baron, John
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Pugh, Dr John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. John Randall and
Mr. Julian Brazier.

Question accordingly agreed to.

28 Jan 2002 : Column 79

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

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