Select Committee on Defence Sixth Report


  1. We cannot guarantee to prevent a terrorist attack. Therefore we must prepare to manage the likely consequences should one occur. The Civil Contingencies Committee is the Cabinet Committee, chaired by the Home Secretary, with overall responsibility for 'making the country more effective in planning for, dealing with, and learning lessons from emergencies and disasters, including those caused by terrorists'.[187] The Committee and its sub-committees and their functions are set out in the attached chart.

  2. Central government guidance in this area is contained in the document, Dealing with Disaster. That guidance is intended to provide 'a framework within which the more detailed plan of the emergency services, local authorities and other organisations are normally prepared'.[188] Each of the emergency services have their own plans and procedures. At local and regional levels these services are well used to working together. The response to an incident is conventionally broken down into the following phases—
  3. Assessment

    An assessment must be made of the hazards facing an organisation and community.


    Measures adopted following assessment of the likely hazards, which seek to prevent emergencies occurring or to reduce their severity.


    Preparation of plans to respond to known hazards as well as to unforeseen events. It includes, for example, the arrangements for calling out key personnel and the preparation of resource registers. There needs to be clear ownership of the plans, and their effectiveness needs to be tested in regular exercises and the lessons learned incorporated back into the plans.


    The initial response to an incident is normally provided by the statutory emergency services and, as necessary, by the appropriate local authorities and possibly voluntary organisations.


    This phase will encompass those activities necessary to provide a rapid return to normality both for the community and for those involved with the response.

    We have discussed the first two elements in earlier sections of the report in terms of their application to a major terrorist incident. It is worth emphasising, however, that effective emergency planning requires close co-ordination of all of the separate elements.

    US Actions

  4. For comparative purposes we have also looked at what actions have been taken in the United States, the target of the attacks of 11 September and indeed of a number of earlier al Qaeda atrocities. We recognise that the United States is, in terms of administrative structures, constitution and sheer size, very different from the UK and that we should be cautious in drawing any direct analogies.
  5.  On 20 September, President Bush appointed Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania to be Director of Homeland Security. Governor Ridge's Office of Homeland Security was based in the White House, constitutionally with a similar status to the National Security Council. Its task was to develop and coordinate the implementation of a national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks.[189] This required bringing together and co-ordinating the work of 46 federal agencies, the 50 states and thousands of local jurisdictions in order to establish

  • a national strategy for assessing threats;
  • a system for disseminating intelligence about threats, and about available assistance among state and local officials;
  • co-ordination of federal, state and local emergency capabilities;
  • training and readiness standards for state and local officials;
  • harmonisation of private and public medical capabilities
  • enhancement to public health surveillance systems; and
  • the availability of a surge capacity for the medical system.[190]

  1. But Governor Ridge had little authority and no control over the budgets or resources of the agencies he was supposed to be co-ordinating. By April, the Economist was reporting that he was 'losing what little [credibility] he had when he came to Washington'.[191] It went on to argue that he was the victim of a structural problem. Although he was of Cabinet Secretary rank, he did not head a formal department. The decision not to create a full department of homeland defence was taken partly because it was claimed that it was more important that Governor Ridge had the confidence of, and ready access to, the President and partly because a formal department can only be created by Congress and there was a need for immediate action.
  2. On 6 June, however, President Bush announced that he intended to create a permanent Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. The Department will bring together many existing agencies including the Coast Guard, the Border Patrol, the Customs Service, Immigration Officials, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The President described the role of the Department as follows—
  3. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with four primary tasks. This new agency will control our borders and prevent terrorists and explosives from entering our country. It will work with states and local authorities to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies. It will bring together our best scientists to develop technologies that detect biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and to discover the drugs and treatments to best protect our citizens. And this new department will review intelligence and law enforcement information from all agencies of government, and produce a single daily picture of threats against our homeland. Analysts will be responsible for imagining the worst, and planning to counter it.[192]

    It is intended to complement, not replace, the existing Office of Homeland Security. The President hoped that Congress would agree to the establishment of the new department by the end of 2002.

  4. The creation of this department, however, will be no easy task. The US Government Accounting Office has advised that implementation 'will be an extremely complex task and will ultimately take years to achieve.'[193] Others have criticised the basis of the President's approach arguing that large bureaucracies lack agility and that, for example, the incorporation of the Federal Emergency Agency, one of the best run federal offices, into a much larger organisation risks damaging its effectiveness.[194]
  5. Consequence Management and Resilience

  6. Mr Christopher Leslie MP, then Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office and Minister responsible for emergency planning activities (Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office), told us that his aim was 'to enhance preparedness ... and to really embed a concept of resilience into the mainstream of our work across all government departments.'[195] According to Mr John Sharp, Chief Executive Officer of the Business Continuity Institute, 'resilience is one of the things that you build in in order to build continuity, so it is your techniques of ensuring that your organisation can continue in business.'[196] Continuity is of course essential, particularly for central government functions; but so too is the mitigation of consequences. Effective consequence management (or emergency) planning arrangements should ensure both that core tasks can continue to be undertaken and that the consequences of any incident are as far as possible minimised and controlled.
  7. The UK learned hard lessons about the importance of consequence management in the fuel crisis of 2000 and the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001. Lessons on the value of preparedness were also learned from the extensive measures taken in the run-up to 1 January 2000 to protect against the millennium computer bug. These experiences led to the establishment of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) in the Cabinet Office which was 'set up by the Prime Minister after the General Election [of June 2001] to bring together a range of responsibilities which had previously been dispersed across a number of different Departments'.[197]
  8. Civil Contingencies Secretariat

  9. Mr Mike Granatt, CB, Head of the CCS told us—
  10. The Government looked back at the events since, for instance, the millennium period and the number of crises which have been dealt with. The Prime Minister came to the conclusion that he wished to see better arrangements for making sure that government itself was resilient to the handling of crises. The role of the Secretariat is essentially to do that. It is to help ensure that government, and indeed the United Kingdom, is more resilient in the face of the sort of disruptive challenges which can lead to crises ... the emergency planning responsibility moved from the Home Office to the Cabinet Office and it is now placed at the centre of government where we can influence more easily the way in which the machinery of government operates and reacts.[198]

  11. Thus the CCS's establishment was in response to a succession of civil emergencies. The arrangements pre-date 11 September and were not designed with large scale terrorist action or asymmetric attacks in mind. It is also worth noting that Mr Granatt, as well as being head of the CCS, is also the head of the Government Information and Communications Service.
  12. Mr Granatt believed that 11 September had 'not changed ... the way we are approaching building the work of the Secretariat in the longer term'.[199] Rather its effects had been to focus people's attention very quickly at their own business continuity plans and it had thereby 'been an opportunity for us to get involved with a large number of organisations not least ... all of central government in looking at the resilience of the government machine'.[200]
  13. The bulk of the staff of the CCS were inherited from the Home Office—about 80 in number. An additional 30 were also brought in 'from across a range of departments'.[201] Mr Granatt expected the level of staffing in the longer term to be around 100. These numbers exclude the staff of the Emergency Planning College at Easingwold for which the CCS also has responsibility. The CCS has five divisions. The Programme Coordination division provides the secretariat for the Civil Contingencies Committee (CCC) and its sub-committees.
  14. The remaining divisions are the Assessment division which 'scans the horizon for potential disruption and also undertakes specific assessments'; the Capability Management division which will work with government departments facing disruptive challenges, providing advice on how to prevent or manage crisis, or where to find expertise, experience and resources and help with planning when a crisis is faced; the Communication and Learning division which includes the News Co-ordination Centre, whose function is to co-ordinate information for the public during a cross-departmental emergency, and the Emergency Planning College; and the National Resilience Framework division which has responsibility for developing partnerships between all 'the communities of interest that can deliver resilience' such as local authorities, voluntary agencies, and private sector groupings, and is also responsible for the review of emergency planning in England and Wales (see paragraph 154).[202]
  15. These are wide-ranging and challenging functions, but they are directed, as the Minister told us, to 'facilitating an integrated and co-ordinated response',[203] not to delivering such a response. Mr Granatt told us—
  16. We are not a disaster management agency because we are not staffed to that level. We are there to co-ordinate and to make sure that the agencies which do manage disasters have the best chance of doing it.[204]

  17. The CCS has not had an easy first year. An event of the magnitude of the attacks of 11 September must have substantially disrupted the work of an organisation which had been in existence for only a few months. Even the most basic tasks, such as ensuring that the staff of the new secretariat understood the aims and purpose of the organisation, had suffered, so that six months after its establishment the Head of the CCS was still 'not happy... we have everybody understanding how the Secretariat works in every corner.'[205]
  18. Obviously an organisation cannot project itself in an effective and coherent way to the outside world if its own people are unclear about its role. Nonetheless the CCS's record at putting itself across to key partners, and explaining to them what it is and what it does, has not been good. The Head of Global Security at UBS Warburg was not even aware of its existence when he appeared before us on 10 April.[206] The Executive Director of the Association of Insurers and Risk Managers had had no experience of the CCS either.[207] The Director of Security at BAA told us that he had had no direct contact with the CCS, instead his discussions on contingency planning since 11 September had been through the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and the Airport Operators Association.[208] The Ambulance Service Association told us in April that the CCS had not initially engaged with them, apparently on the basis that they did not need to consult the Ambulance Service separately from consulting the Department of Health. The witnesses did add, however, that they were now becoming more involved and were looking forward to working a lot more closely with the CCS.[209] The Society of Emergency Planning Officers believed that 'the CCS ... do not understand what emergency planning is, what a local authority emergency planning officer or colleagues in utilities ... do.'.[210]
  19. There was also confusion over what the role of the CCS was. Following 11 September, we were told, a request was put in to the CCS for assistance with providing facilities to provide accommodation for a large number of people stuck at Heathrow airport because their flights were cancelled. The CCS response was 'a categoric flat no, not our responsibility, nothing to do with us ...'.[211] The Local Government Association looked to the CCS to 'co-ordinate Government response to any emergency'[212] (emphasis added). Mr Patrick Cunningham, Emergency Planning officer for the county of Durham and Darlington, believed that the CCS had the responsibility to submit the case for increased funding for emergency planning for local authorities to the Treasury.[213] These misunderstandings point to a failure by the CCS to explain clearly what its role is.
  20. On the other hand Deputy Chief Constable Goldsmith, speaking on behalf of ACPO, believed that the CCS had made 'a very positive start' and that it had 'brought a direction and an energy ... which is still gathering momentum.'[214] The Fire Service also believed there had been an improvement since 11 September, although Chief Fire Officer Richard Bull, President of CACFOA, was concerned that 'in some ways you do get the impression that the impetus and the pace of the work has slowed a little.'[215]
  21. Mr John Sharp, Chief Executive Officer of the Business Continuity Institute, told us that he believed that the CCS was aware that it had not marketed itself effectively to the private sector. He planned 'to go on a road show with them in July and September to try and go out and promote business continuity, resilience, etc'.[216] The Cabinet Secretary has also recognised that the CCS has not been as effective as it should have been. He has asked Sir David Omand KCB, former Permanent Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, to 'come in and give a strategic and wider supporting look across the piece at the work of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, looking at questions about resources, priorities and so on.'[217] This work should be completed over the summer.
  22. Nonetheless, one might have expected that the CCS, established in June 2001, with a clear mandate from the Prime Minister, would have been perfectly placed to respond to the demands of 11 September, indeed, to have been able to have used those terrible events as a spur to drive forward more quickly and more comprehensively its programme of work. In fact the reverse seems to have been the case. The aftermath of 11 September placed substantial additional burdens on the staff of the CCS. The focus of its work was radically changed.
  23. It is a matter of regret that the CCS was not able to respond more positively and energetically to the events of 11 September. Instead of using its unique position at the heart of Government to lead a strategic response it seems to have become bogged down in the details of the plans of individual departments and the relationships between them. Instead of being the solution to the habitual 'departmentalism' of Whitehall, it has become a casualty of it.
  24. Emergency Planning Review

  25. Another area for which the CCS has responsibility, and where progress seems to have been slower than might have been hoped, is the review of emergency planning in England and Wales. When the review began in February 2001 it was the responsibility of the Home Office. It passed to the Cabinet Office and the CCS following the General Election of June 2001. A consultation document was published in August 2001. Responses were invited by 31 October 2001. 267 written responses were received. A document analysing the results of the consultation was published in February 2002.
  26. The original consultation document stated that, following the consultation itself, 'all responses will then be analysed and a report with recommendations will then be presented to Ministers,'[218] giving a strong impression that decisions could be expected to follow fairly rapidly. But, this was misleading because it also stated, 'if changes in the legislative framework are recommended, further consultation will be necessary to take these forward.'[219] In fact the document itself proposed such changes explaining that the Government had concluded that the existing legislation, which was passed in 1948, was out of date and should be replaced with a new statutory duty for emergency planning,[220] and that the Government proposed to bring forward a bill and invite comments on its contents.[221] It is therefore difficult to see how further consultation could have been avoided. On 16 January the Head of the CCS told us that the process might take 'a year or two', but that as soon as they had analysed the responses to the consultation, they would set up a project team to take forward how proposals might be put together.[222] The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, told us in late May, 'we are addressing the legislative framework as quickly and as effectively as we possibly can.'[223] Challenged with the proposition that there was no proper system for monitoring or evaluating the quality of local authority emergency planning, he replied—
  27. A lot of it is to do with the statutory framework in place and I think your representations in respect of a future Civil Contingencies Bill would be most welcome[224]

  28. We understand that and we welcome the acknowledgement by both the Head of the CCS and the Parliamentary Secretary that there needs to be a real urgency to this work. But such statements need to be supported by practical actions. The Parliamentary Secretary also told us, 'we have not announced or published any consultation document on the Civil Contingencies Bill process as yet.'[225] He appeared before us a full three months after the Cabinet Office published its analysis of the consultation. He was unable even to tell us what form such a document might take. Instead, he told us—
  29. ... I am coming to the conclusion that whilst the questions and the scope of the Emergency Planning Review were wide, ... there are some fairly fundamental deep-seated questions about how we embed resilience concepts into all our government structures much more ... So I think our commitment, which is strong, to a Civil Contingencies Bill, will want to try to resolve most of these big policy questions as rapidly as possible. I cannot give any commitment about the timing of legislation.[226]

    We are now five months on and still nothing has emerged.

  30. This also suggests that the Government might now be contemplating legislation which will be more extensive in scope than that envisaged in the consultation document. Although that document envisaged that the duty to share in partnership arrangements for emergency planning would apply to government departments, the principal purpose of the bill was to replace the provisions of the Civil Defence Act 1948 with a new statutory emergency planning duty to fall on a range of partner bodies, with local authorities required to exercise community leadership. The legislation would also address the mechanism by which the Government provides funding for local authorities' emergency planning functions (the proposal was to incorporate funding in the SSA). There was a section in the consultation document about national and regional relationships. The analysis of the consultation process demonstrated that respondents were not clear on central government's role and that there was a general requirement for better communication. But that analysis also suggested that the Government took the view that the questions relating to what role the Cabinet Office should play and to the possible creation of a national emergency planning agency had been superseded by the creation of the CCS.[227]
  31. Ten months have now passed since the terrible attacks of 11 September and nearly a year since the publication of the emergency planning review document. We believe that the Government has had time enough to address the issues raised by the review. It should now as a matter of urgency publish its proposals for civil contingencies legislation, with the explicit aim of introducing that legislation in the 2002-03 parliamentary session.
  32. Role of Central Government

  33. The head of the CCS told us that, in setting up the emergency planning review, the Government had believed 'that the Emergency Planning Response among local authorities was ... patchy and something needed to be done to improve that arrangement'.[228] Mr Kevin Wallace, Deputy Director of the CCS, explained that one of the reasons for this was that—
  34. At the moment, save for particular circumstances of a chemical site or a nuclear site, there is no general duty on a local authority to plan to deal with an emergency.[229]

    This deficiency, of course, would be put right by the proposed civil contingencies bill.

  35. That alone, however, will not ensure that all local authorities improve their performance to the extent that the Government believes necessary. At present there are no national performance indicators for local authorities' emergency plans and there is no national performance monitoring of that function.[230] Local authorities own performance-indicators seem to be largely measures of activity rather than of effectiveness.[231] The LGA had reservations about the inclusion of quantifiable output-based performance indicators—
  36. It is difficult to set quantifiable targets because one needs to look at the circumstances in which an event occurs and the resources which can be brought to bear. Yes, we can identify the resources which are available, but we cannot necessarily use all the resources ourselves at any given time.[232]

  37. We were told, however, that the Emergency Planning Society had met with the Emergency Planning Division of the Home Office to try to persuade them to agree to national performance targets.[233] We believe that there should be national performance targets for local authorities' and other agencies' emergency plans. We accept that there may be difficulties in imposing such targets in the absence of a statutory duty to prepare emergency plans. We recommend that once that duty is in place targets should be imposed and performance against them monitored. In the meantime we encourage local authorities and others to introduce such targets on a voluntary basis.
  38. Dealing with Disaster states that 'prime responsibility for handling disasters should remain at the local level where resources and expertise are found.'[234] Speaking on behalf of the LGA, Mr David Kerry, Chief Emergency Planning Officer of the London Borough of Hounslow, told us that—
  39. ... the whole ethos of local authority emergency planning has for many, many years been enshrined in the document Dealing with Disaster which says, we believe quite rightly, that the emergency planning response should be prepared and made by the level delivering response to the emergency. That has worked very well for any disaster you may care to name that we have suffered in the last 10/15 years in this country.[235]

    Mr Tom Griffin, Chief Executive of Suffolk Coastal District Council, pointed out that 'if an event happens, the local authority is going to be called on to respond, partly because there is no one else.'[236]

  40. In the case of a terrorist incident the operational lead will rest in most cases with the police.[237] In its response to the emergency planning review consultation, ACPO stated '... the response to an emergency incident should rest with the emergency services, with the chief constable being responsible for co-ordination of that response, as detailed in Dealing with Disaster.' We found no disagreement with the proposition that the police should continue to have this role. CACFOA told us, 'Emergency Services and local authorities are clear about their own and each other's roles in the response to a major incident.'[238] Thus, there is, in the words of the MoD, 'a well-established mechanism for operational and tactical command and control, focussed on the police force responsible for responding to an incident.'[239]
  41. Although it is fundamental to the arrangements for dealing with disasters in the United Kingdom that the first response to any incident is at the local level, there will be occasions when the scale of the disaster places demands upon the local agencies which exceed their resources. In those cases their first recourse is to mutual aid arrangements with services in adjacent areas.[240] We discuss these arrangements below (paragraph 185).
  42. Lead Government Department

  43. On occasions, however, central government will also be involved. Normally this involvement will be limited to the provision of specialist advice or information or to the handling of parliamentary, media and public inquiries. Dealing with Disaster sets out the tasks which may be expected of a lead government department. It also contains a list of pre-nominated lead government departments for certain types of disaster or emergency. That list does not include terrorist attacks. The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office told us—
  44. We have been working on clarifying lead Government department responsibilities in that [ie terrorist] range of potential scenarios quite actively in recent months and I suspect that there will be much more in the public arena in due course.

    Although we look forward to seeing that information, a number of witnesses have questioned the concept of a lead government department itself.

  45. Deputy Chief Constable Alan Goldsmith, Chairman of ACPO's Emergency Procedures Committee told us that the establishment of the CCS meant that the concept of lead government departments had to be re-examined. The LGA told us that they believed we should move away from the existing lead government department principle 'whereby depending on the nature of the major incident or catastrophe, a different department may be providing the lead, with a different control room and a different set of officials.'[241] Instead they supported 'the concept ... [of] a central emergency operation centre,'[242] to which they could, in the event of any emergency, submit their request for assistance.
  46. In Scotland, emergency planning is a devolved responsibility. The Scottish Executive's guidance—Dealing with Disaster Together—is very similar to its England and Wales counterpart. During our visit to Scotland in connection with this inquiry we met Mr Ian Jordan, Emergency Planning Officer for Dumfries and Galloway. As well as having experience of a number of emergencies since devolution, he had also been the emergency planning officer at the time of the Lockerbie disaster. He believed that 'the Government's "lead Departments" philosophy is fundamentally flawed.'[243] Both he and those whom we met in the Scottish Executive commended the model of a single Scottish Emergency Co-ordinating Committee and a Scottish Executive Emergency Room.
  47. Ministers were not sympathetic to these arguments. The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, told us—
  48. As far as I am concerned there is clarity about which government departments do take the lead in various different situations.[244]

    The Minister of State, Home Office, argued that—

    By its nature it is impossible to identify and plan for every one of the thousand of possible scenarios that could happen and therefore what is needed is a broad set of capabilities to respond right across government owned in each of those departments, so that when the unexpected, or the slightly different from what you might have expected, turns up people are still able to respond ... having lead departments within that overall framework actually expands our capacity to respond and expands our flexibility in a way which, if you like, a very narrow possibly incredibly highly professional, but nonetheless very narrow, organisation not connected into the delivery of services would not be able to do.[245]

    Later he added—

    The lead department role does not mean a lead operational department. If a terrorist bomb goes off, the police co-ordinate the response to the terrorist bomb and work with the other emergency services ... On a major incident there would be co-ordination of other responses by Government. There is a need to understand, in areas where potentially more than one department has an interest, which has the lead responsibility in terms of developing policy, developing capability and being able to contribute to the multi-faceted response.[246]

  49. In considering this issue we should distinguish between the various roles expected of central government, and consider the different types of emergency which might lead to them being called upon, bearing in mind that in this report our focus is on major incidents caused by terrorist attacks. Local agencies first of all need to know where to make their initial contact. For some localised emergencies the expertise of a particular individual department will be required (eg DEFRA for floods, Department of Transport for a rail accident). But for a major disaster the picture may be less clear. In its response to the emergency planning review consultation, ACPO stated—
  50. Central government's response arrangements are not clear and their role with regard to 'massive' disasters needs clarifying.

    They also argued that there needed to be a central co-ordinating committee to provide a channel of communication between Whitehall and local co-ordinating groups.

  51. Once a disaster has occurred which is of a scale to require substantial central government involvement, the resources to manage that response need to be found from somewhere. It is logical that these resources should come from that part of government with the relevant expertise and experience. But it is not only resources which are required. Central government must also have the capability to provide co-ordination and, if necessary, direction, particularly in the case of massive disasters. It must deliver a consistent and coherent service throughout the consequence management of an incident. One of the drawbacks of the lead department concept is the possibility that the lead department might change. A terrorist attack, for example, leading to a chemical or radiological hazard would presumably start with the Home Office as lead department but might, in its consequence management phase, become the responsibility of DEFRA or DTI.
  52. Although the mechanisms for transferring responsibilities from one government department to another might be well understood within Whitehall, they are not elsewhere. In particular they are not well understood by the partner agencies. We discuss below some of the steps which we believe the Government should take to make more transparent the processes by which it seeks to prevent and to respond to major emergencies (see paragraph 285). It is clear, however, that the existing arrangements for central government's involvement in emergencies are not delivering an acceptable service to local agencies. 79% of respondents to the emergency planning review consultation were 'not content' with current arrangements, none was content.[247]
  53. We believe that that response, if nothing else, should have encouraged the Government to undertake a fundamental reassessment of the arrangements. The urgency of such a reassessment was re-doubled by the attacks of 11 September. Both these events suggest that the current responsibility of the CCS 'to manage the central co-ordination machinery'[248] should be strengthened. Of the three principal roles of a lead department set out in Dealing with Disaster, the CCS already has responsibility for

  • co-ordinating central government machinery; and
  • co-ordinating information for the public and media during a cross-departmental emergency (which any large scale terrorist attack is likely to be).

It is also, through the National Resilience Framework, responsible for developing key partnerships between 'all the communities of interest that can deliver resilience.'[249]

  1. The Government's argument is that the lead department concept works because it is appropriate to smaller, more local emergencies. It accepts that for major cross-departmental emergencies other centrally managed provision would be needed, as described by the Minister, but argues that that should only be brought into play in those circumstances. The Prime Minister, in his evidence to the Liaison Committee on 16 July, emphasised that the absence of cross-departmental co-operation was 'absolutely fatal' to the management of a major emergency. He also said that, when faced with a major emergency, 'you have got to be prepared to knock the rules out of the way to get the thing done'.[250] Some of this could be done in advance. We believe that consideration should be given to the alternative proposition that the Government's role in all emergencies which make a call on central government (including the more frequent and localised emergencies) should be co-ordinated by the central co-ordinating machinery which would have to respond to a major emergency. This would be for two principal reasons. Firstly, as we have already discussed, the lack of clarity amongst non-central government agencies, as to which department is responsible for what, is one of their major complaints. They believe that they need a single central co-ordinating body; in other words a one-stop shop. Secondly the experience gained by the officials in such a body from dealing with smaller scale emergencies would be of huge help to them if they ever had to deal with a massive disaster caused by a terrorist attack.
  2. At present the CCS's role is limited to co-ordination. Even the responsibility for determining which government department should take the lead in cases of doubt, rests with the Civil Contingencies Committee rather than the CCS.[251] Furthermore the Head of the CCS told us that the 'chief head-knocker' in terms of ensuring the co-operation and involvement of all parts of central government in the work of the CCS to strengthen contingency planning arrangements was the Home Secretary 'as Chairman of the Civil Contingencies Committee.'[252] And as we have seen from the example quoted by the Local Government Association, the CCS does not have responsibility for deploying particular resources.
  3. Effective co-ordination requires more than simply bringing people together. It also requires the power to ensure that the actions taken by different agencies are taken in ways that promote interoperability and coherence rather than the opposite. Brigadier Ian Abbot, Director of Capabilities Management at the CCS, told us—
  4. What we have found since 11 September is that the plans for one particular department may well be sound, but the problem is they are not synchronised with the other departments.[253]

  5. The proposed Civil Contingencies Bill will place a statutory duty on local authorities and other local agencies to have in place civil contingency plans and will require those agencies to co-operate in the preparation of the plans. Central government should be prepared to accept a similar responsibility. To do so will require not only central co-ordination but also central enforcement. Is the CCS the body to take on that role?


187   Ev 258 Back

188   Op cit, Chapter 1 Back

189   President's Executive Minute Back

190   US Homeland Security: New Focus on Vulnerability: Strategic Survey 2001/2002, 1155, May 2002 Back

191   Economist, 20 April 2002, p 57 Back

192   Address to the Nation, 6 June 2002 Back

193   Testimony before the US Senate Sub Committee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information, 25 June 2002 Back

194   Aviation Week and Space Technology, 1 July 2002 Back

195   Q 1393 Back

196   Q 721 Back

197   Ev 1 Back

198   Q 4 Back

199   Q 5 Back

200   ibid Back

201   Q 14 Back

202   Ev 1-2 Back

203   Q 1423 Back

204   Q 52 Back

205   Q 15 Back

206   Q 792 Back

207   ibid Back

208   Q 1260 Back

209   Q 999 Back

210   Q 675 Back

211   Q 689 Back

212   Ev 110 Back

213   Q 681 Back

214   Q 1151 Back

215   Q 1102 Back

216   Q 792 Back

217   Q 1452 Back

218   The Future of Emergency Planning in England and Wales, Executive Summary Back

219   op cit para 1.8 Back

220   Part para 4.10 Back

221   op cit para 4.11 and 4.12 Back

222   Q 81 Back

223   Q 1444 Back

224   Q 1451 Back

225   Q 1482 Back

226   Q 1477 Back

227   The Future of Emergency Planning in England and Wales: Results of the Consultation, para 35 Back

228   Q 34 Back

229   Q 36 Back

230   Q 573 Back

231   ibid Back

232   Q 577 Back

233   Q 653 Back

234   op cit, Chapter 1 Back

235   Q 561 Back

236   Q 558 Back

237   Ev 28 Back

238   Ev 207 Back

239   Ev 29 Back

240   Dealing with Disaster, Chapter 7 Back

241   Q 561 Back

242   ibid Back

243   Ev 305 Back

244   Q 1427 Back

245   ibid Back

246   Q 1433 Back

247   The Future of Emergency Planning in England and Wales: Results of the Consultation, para 28 Back

248   Ev 1 Back

249   Ev 2 Back

250   Liaison Committee, Minutes of Evidence, 16 July 2002, HC 1095, Q 103 Back

251   Q 9 Back

252   Q 6 Back

253   Q 7 Back

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