Joint Committee on Draft Civil Contingencies Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160-179)



  Q160  Patrick Mercer: The draft Bill would allow the Government to requisition property or allow for the destruction of property, animal or plant life, with out without compensation. Should compensation be given in the case of destruction of property, plant or animal life through actions taken under the draft Bill?

  Mr Henry: That is something we would clearly wish to consult on with Westminster. It is difficult to say in advance, because it would be our view that things need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. If you simply gave a blank cheque before anything happened then when the unforeseen happens the country, never mind the different agencies, would not have the ability to compensate in the way that people might expect if you had pre-defined the level of compensation. I think it is very difficult. Again, I come back to the point, we need to make sure that the legislation enables to move swiftly and effectively to deal with the emergency. Yes, we need to remain alive to the possibility of compensating people for how they are affected; but it could well be that we need to then decide on a case-by-case basis just how much, if anything, people should be compensated by.

  Mr Morgan: There is the issue of human rights and the compatibility of all legislation, whether it is Scottish, English or Welsh legislation. It has got to be compatible with European human rights legislation. I am sure you cannot expropriate. Therefore, you would be required to compensate. Our actual experience is really very strange in this area, in that the main concerns that have been expressed, both in the Assembly, the Parliament, the wider community, the media and so forth, has been not about the avoidance of compensation but about overcompensation. In other words, where you cull and where you ask farmers, say in the case of foot and mouth or swine fever, the tendency is to need to slightly overcompensate, to make sure that farmers do have a little bit of incentive to come forward with diseased animals rather than keep them in the herd, hide the symptoms, bury them on their own land or whatever. It is overcompensation rather than undercompensation that has caused most comment. It is almost inevitable that there will be. You need to keep it to a minimum. Not 50% overcompensation; if you can make it 5% that is obviously much better. You do need to ensure that an animal with disease comes forward and, therefore, something slightly over the market value is almost inevitably going to be payable to give a slight incentive so that disease, before it spreads, is brought forward and therefore can be culled. Again, our experience in foot and mouth was, although Defra were paying and we did not pay for any of the culls, we determined what would be culled in Wales. You could say that would lead to a tendency for us as the Assembly government making almost all the decisions in Wales to order far more culls than Defra would, because we know they are paying. Actually we ordered less culling. Probably half a million sheep were left alive in Wales at the end of foot and mouth than would have been culled had they been in England, even though the financial incentive would point you the other way. We had a different view, and we did not have the two super hot spots of Cumbria and Devon, although we had a second tier hot spot in Montgomeryshire. That is counter-intuitive, if you like. We culled less, even though financially we could have culled more on the grounds that Defra would pick up the bill anyway—which they did. We actually culled less.

  Q161  Mr Allan: Just to carry on looking at the human rights' aspects of the draft Bill, one of the features of the draft Bill is that regulations made under special powers should be treated as primary legislation, the implication of this being that they could not be struck down by the courts if challenged. Do you believe this is a necessary or useful proposal and, if so, why? Or do you think there are alternative ways of achieving some protection for the regulations that should be considered instead?

  Mr Morgan: I am not a constitutional lawyer or, indeed, any kind of lawyer but our view is that although this argument is finely balanced we do think that treating the emergency regulations as primary legislation is justified, given the exceptional nature of the situation to be covered by the legislation. Derogations under ECHR for a short time because of the nature of the emergency may be justifiable too, and a balance between what you might call collective rights and individual rights. That is what emergencies are about, they are about the circumstances in which individual rights have to be sacrificed for the benefit of the—fashionable word—"herd immunity", which you sometimes hear talked about in relation to measles vaccines. This is about herd immunity, really, to emergencies, is it not? Individual rights sometimes go by the board temporarily, but not unreasonably, for better herd immunity.

  Mr Henry: As far as we are concerned, the Scottish Parliament cannot pass any legislation which is incompatible with the ECHR, so if it did in fact try to pass legislation it would not be law. Similarly, the Scottish Executive cannot undertake acts which are incompatible with the ECHR, but we recognise that from a UK perspective there could be circumstances in which you are required to act where there could be some tensions and conflict. That clearly would be a matter for UK ministers if they required to consider derogations from the Convention. It is also the case that if UK primary were not compatible the Court could make a finding in terms of the Human Rights Act. So, yes we would expect people as far as possible to ensure that both primary and secondary legislation were compatible but we do recognise that in certain emergency situations the UK Government might require to act in a way which would cause some temporary difficulties.

  Mr Morgan: I think the really key point is to try to devise the legislation in such a way that if it is possible for UK legislation, Welsh Assembly secondary legislation and Scottish Parliament primary legislation to have a temporary derogation from the European Human Rights Act then it needs to be done on a consistent and parallel basis. It is absurd if it is not possible for the Scots, or not possible for us as secondary legislators to introduce regulations because we are not allowed either to pass secondary legislation which is incompatible with the European Human Rights Act. Lord Irvine, who is Chairman of the Committees that set up the Scottish and the Welsh legislation, was absolutely insistent because he was also looking after this other Bill at the same time. You cannot, I think, devise legislation which permits UK ministers to be exempted from the European Human Rights Act principles but the Scots or Welsh not. That would be silly. If it is right to give a derogation temporarily on emergency grounds for UK ministers then it must be right to give the same derogation to us and the Scottish Parliament, it seems for me, for the benefit of consistency. An emergency is an emergency wherever it occurs. If an emergency causes an override which sets aside the European Human Rights Act principles temporarily and reasonably, then it must be true for all legislation that deals with the emergencies in any part of the UK.

  Q162  Lord Archer of Sandwell: Accepting, as Rhodri says, that it is a question of balancing the protection of the individual against the protection of the community, the question which is likely to arise is whether there should be an injunction, is it not? If it is before the courts the judge will have to decide whether it is appropriate in these circumstances to grant an injunction taking account of all the factors. What I was wondering was whether you think that is a decision which should be left to the judges or, as the Government proposes, something which should be taken away from the judges and left, perhaps, to the politicians?

  Mr Morgan: Yes. I am in deep waters here, way above my legal knowledge, but is not anything potentially judicially reviewable? So anything which is unreasonable and sets aside the European Human Rights Act principles which should be there in every bit of new legislation is potentially judicially reviewable. You cannot give away the right to apply for judicial review.

  Q163  Lord Archer of Sandwell: If it is primary legislation then the judge can only declare it to be inconsistent with the act of the European Convention; he cannot grant an injunction. That is the distinction. If it is treated as primary legislation the judge cannot stop it happening, he can simply declare it is inconsistent.

  Mr Henry: I think, as far as we are concerned, we will tussle with those matters for which we are responsible and leave our colleagues at a UK level to try and come to a sensible conclusion on those matters for which they have responsibility. Notwithstanding the points made by Rhodri, it is very clear in terms of what we can and cannot do in our relationship with the ECHR, and those sorts of debates will not apply in our circumstances.

  Q164  Mr Allan: Just to clarify, there is quite an important distinction there. Theoretically, under the terms of the Bill, we could knowingly create some regulations that might be in breach of the ECHR and, as Lord Archer said, if they went before the courts the courts could not say "You cannot implement that regulation"; they could simply affirm that it was inconsistent. However, you could not do that in Scotland or Wales; you just would not be able to pass those regulations?

  Mr Morgan: If it is regulations and they are secondary legislation, is that still the case?

  Q165  Lord Archer of Sandwell: This proposal is treated as primary.

  Mr Henry: As far as we are concerned, we could not pass legislation; it would have no effect. As far as ministers in the Scottish Executive are concerned, we could not act in a way that contravened the ECHR either. It does not apply.

  Mr Morgan: The issue is the question of a temporary set-aside, as it were, of 40 days or whatever it is, and whether that should be challengeable or not.

  Q166  Lord Archer of Sandwell: The Government says that might delay matters, when everything points to quick action. That is the Government's point.

  Mr Morgan: Yes.

  Q167  Mr Clappison: Rhodri, can I take from what you were saying earlier about your view of accountability that you would feel happier in the case of framing regulations to deal with an emergency where you had to think of the interests of the entire community? You would feel happier that you should take responsibility for that as an elected person being accountable to the public rather than be accountable for what you do to lawyers and judges?

  Mr Morgan: Yes. The experience in the foot-and-mouth epidemic—and obviously the events of two years ago are still fresh in everybody's minds—was that you felt happy as an elected politician doing things for which you had no lawful authority, knowing that they were what the community expected you to do in an emergency. What you were doing was reasonable, what you were doing was defensible and what you were doing was what the community expected you to do even though you had no legal backing for what you were doing.

  Q168  Mr Clappison: You would not want to feel constrained by having to look back over your shoulder all the time and think whether or not a judge might grant an injunction to stop you from doing it, even though you think it is very much in the interests of what is needed for the community in that emergency?

  Mr Morgan: That certainly could have happened in 2001. We used to talk about it occasionally but we still felt it was right to go on and not hang about, as it were, paralysed by naval-gazing when you are in the middle of an emergency.

  Q169  Mr Llwyd: There is an example, is there not? Did a woman from Anglesey not apply to the courts to prevent the destruction of her flock of sheep? Do you remember? That was a complicating feature.

  Mr Morgan: I do not remember a case from Anglesey. There was certainly a judicial review challenge but I thought that was after the emergency was over, and it was not from Anglesey.

  Q170  Mr Llwyd: It is was in the teeth of the emergency. That was the whole point.

  Mr Morgan: I think you and I are thinking of different cases.

  Mr Llwyd: That may be.

  Q171  David Wright: We have spent a lot of time, inevitably, talking about relationships between Westminster and the administrations and the Parliaments. Could I touch briefly on your links with local authorities? Do you think that within the draft Bill the duties between yourselves and local authorities are clearly expressed, and would you like to see any change?

  Mr Henry: I think the relationship is already fairly clearly defined. We believe the roles and responsibilities are well understood by the emergency planning community. We think that the legislation would help to consolidate that understanding if it gave clarity of responsibility for local responders within a framework which would be consistent right across the UK. We repeat again that that is not just important for us; it has been coming through from our responders that that consistency is also very important. As far as Part II of the Bill is concerned, we still have not yet reached a view on the use of emergency powers, as I explained before.

  Mr Morgan: So long as we can get progress on the clarification of the Assembly's powers for the co-ordination of emergency planning then I cannot see a problem in the relationship with local government. I chair the meeting of the high level resilience forum at which local government is represented, the Army is there, the police and coastguard and so on, so the advantages of being a small country, in effect, are that you do get to know everybody in the emergency planning community pretty well. That, I assume, is one of the reasons why in England, if you like, the intention is to try to break them into regional levels to get exactly those same advantages of people getting to know each other. Local government has a very primary role in emergency planning. Some of the local government people at the last meeting did say they thought it had got attenuated since the county tier had gone but they thought it could be rebuilt. That was part of the mood created by this Act, created by September 11th, created by foot-and-mouth—the various things in which people now realise this is not about the Cold War, this is about a whole series of different threats that we now have, some of them accidental, like foot-and-mouth, and some of them are still terrorist-related but not Cold War related. People are much more interested in this field and are trying to get stuck back into it and trying to get an appropriate post-Cold War framework for emergency planning. There is much more interest now than before.

  Q172  David Wright: I was interested in the answer to an earlier question about the democratic process in terms of administration. Do you think within the proposed structure in relation to the English regions that there is a serious democratic deficit?

  Mr Henry: Far be it for me to tread on private grief! Certainly as far as we are concerned we do see very distinct advantages with a cohesive, identifiable unit where people know each other, work together and we have a good relationship with local government and other responders. Because it is there and we have been used to it, I suppose, to some extent, you take it for granted. I do not know what it would be like to try to work across a country the size of England. I presume that is behind some of the thinking on regional assemblies and devolved regional government. All I can say is that as far as we are concerned we think it works well and we think that there are advantages in the situation we have.

  Mr Morgan: It is interesting. You can have devolution without a democratic top to it—that is what Scotland has had since the 1860s and Wales from 1964 onwards. You can have administrative devolution. In England the process has gone on of administratively devolving to the regions progressively, regardless of colour of government, and I think the single regeneration budget in the English regions now controls the budget of nine Whitehall ministers and one that the non-democratic form of devolution does gradually lead to a call for democratic devolution because people start talking about the democratic deficit and so on—how they can have these powerful figures at regional level covering quite substantial budgets but there is no politician there to control or steer them. That is not to say that administrative devolution per se does not carry some benefits. If you read the Phillips report on BSE it is undoubtedly a feather in the cap of the Welsh Chief Medical Officer, Dame Deirdre Hinde, that she challenged the orthodoxy at the time about BSE. She had ministers but they were all part of the UK Government. If you read that section of the Phillips Report you would not ever write-off administrative devolution as being no use to man nor beast. It was, but I think it worked better then and it is almost inevitable in the way that, if you have administrative devolution, in the end it leads to a demand for democratic devolution.

  Q173  David Wright: This next question, I think, has been covered but I just wanted to seek some clarity from your response this morning in terms of whether the Scottish Executive with the endorsement of the Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales should be able to proclaim a state of emergency in Scotland and Wales. Basically, following on from what David Cairns was saying earlier about the military/civil power—for example, in Wales law and order being in the hands of Westminster—is not that kind of power irrelevant anyway?

  Mr Henry: I think we are having to go over the ground in terms of declaring a state of emergency. We are still reflecting on that. I think on the issue of the military, we have good relationships; the military chain of command is very cleared defined and what would be important for us is making sure that whatever happens the links in to the military are very clearly defined and communication works well. I do not think it is superseded or irrelevant. What we have at the moment works whatever happens, whatever changes are brought about, and has got to ensure that while the military may well have a UK chain of command it has got to be able to respond to local developments, local incidents and local issues. Recent events, such as the fire dispute and foot-and-mouth, have shown that they have done that well.

  Q174  David Wright: It is going to be even more difficult for you, Rhodri, in the Assembly in terms of this split power.

  Mr Morgan: If I can answer in my own way, Hugh has put it very much in similar terms as I would have put it. In other words, we want the institution of the Assembly and the capacity of the Assembly, as proven in recent emergencies in 2000 and 2001 (and more recently in the fire strike) to be used to the maximum. Exactly what the best way of doing that is remains the subject of negotiation with the Cabinet Office and other Whitehall ministries. We are convinced from our experience that we are the best placed to deploy the resources appropriately in Wales, to tweak the treatment of an emergency in the way that I described earlier, in the way that suits the circumstances best in Wales. Exactly how you do that is what you are looking for in this legislation, or the freedom to do it in that way is what you are looking for in the legislation. "What value can we add based on our recent experience?" I would not get too worked up about the military side of this. This came out very clearly in our last high-level forum at which the Army and the other services were represented. There are no circumstances in which any Whitehall Department, at a UK level, or we, or the Scots, can give instructions to the Army. It does not happen in Northern Ireland even. They are part of a planning forum, they are part of an emergency forum, they accept an outcome which needs to be delivered but it is only the Ministry of Defence which can give them instructions. We cannot give them instructions, the Health Department cannot give them instructions up here either; nobody can give them instructions except the MoD, but you can specify an outcome to them and they will say "Okay, we can deliver that". Again, from my experience in FMD they played a very big part in that, in the fire strike even bigger and more directly, but it is that co-working with them and getting to know them that enables you to say "That is the outcome we are all agreed on that we want", and they say "Right, we will deliver that". It is not an instruction. So the lack of a power to instruct the Army is a nonsense. That is a chimera which, in my experience, it would be a waste of time pursuing.

  Mr Henry: I think the other thing worth bearing in mind, and it touches on some of what both Rhodri and I have been saying about consultation and communication, is it really cannot be overstated just how important that is. Maybe it is that sometimes we get a bit sensitive. We can understand the pressures that are sometimes on colleagues at a UK level when they deal with the bigger picture or dealing, maybe, with an area that is the administrative size of England but we just really need to ensure that whatever happens the Welsh dimension and the Scottish dimension—and indeed the Northern Irish dimension—is always fully considered, and not just as an after-thought but is there central to the discussions. We know that sometimes when UK colleagues are under pressure to move they can maybe react in terms of their experience and knowledge, and then it is only afterwards that sometimes people start to think "Wait a minute, there is maybe a Welsh or a Scottish dimension". Particularly when we are talking about emergencies we need to ensure that our geographical, social and legislative needs are fully considered. We understand that that can be a burden when you are having to deal quickly with other things, but we are hopeful that if we go down the route of concordats and agreement at a UK level those would be sufficiently robust to ensure that we all understand our respective roles.

  Q175  Lord Lucas of Crudwell and Dingwall: Certainly from my perspective, one of the effects of devolution to Scotland and Wales has been that in England I now know nothing about what is going on in those two countries; they are never reported, apart from certain comparing of the cost of a parliament building. How can you expect people, UK ministers, to know anything about what your requirements are in Wales and Scotland?

  Mr Henry: It is not about having the day-to-day knowledge and detailed information, because really that would be our responsibility; it is knowing that before any decision is taken—for example, in the fire dispute, we regularly communicated with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister just to make sure that if any decision is made that impacts on UK issues, such as pay and conditions of service, they are not simply determined from an English perspective but they realise that they will have UK implications. For example, at the moment, again in relation to fire, there are certain things going on just now where in England they will be looking at the possibility of new board structures and reducing the number of boards. There will be certain other changes coming out of the modernisation agenda. We have communicated very clearly—my minister, Cathy Jamieson, has met Nick Raynsford—and discussed some of these issues, but it is just making sure that if a decision is to be taken then communication is made to ensure that any implications are fully considered before a final decision is taken. We would not expect our UK colleagues to be completely au fait with everything which goes on at every level either in Scotland or Wales.

  Mr Morgan: I do not know whether you are right about media coverage of matters in Wales and Scotland, in that the London-based or English media do occasionally use Wales as a way of kicking the Government and will use us to sort of imply a deficiency in a way that the Welsh media certainly would not. Sometimes the only time you get good news about Wales is by listening to the English media because then they will be using us as a stick to beat the British Government. It happened recently. I sometimes listen to Radio Four and it is the only time we get favourable coverage. When there was the commencement of discussion about whether the A-level syllabus should be replaced by a Baccalaureate they said "Oh yes, great idea, but the Welsh were already doing this two years ago", or something like that. Likewise with the Children's Commissioner decision recently in the Green Paper "Oh, Wales has been doing that for years". You never get that sort of favourable coverage in Wales, that is all I can say.

  Mr Henry: It works both ways. You are saying the only coverage you get in Scotland is over the cost of a building, but in Scotland we get plenty of coverage about the cost of Parliament and very little comment on the cost of buildings like Portcullis House.

  Chairman: Fortunately, the press are neither Category 1 or Category 2 responders!

  Q176  Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: In the event of a state of emergency the English regions would have Regionally Nominated Co-ordinators, and Scotland and Wales Emergency Co-ordinators. Do you wish to see differences in the method of appointment, conditions of service or functions between a Regionally Nominated Co-ordinator and an Emergency Co-ordinator? For example, should Scottish Ministers or the Welsh National Assembly agree the terms of service or be involved in the selection process for Emergency Co-ordinators?

  Mr Morgan: Yes, we do. We do believe that we should be consulted and that they should engage with us closely if the post is activated. We would prefer a reinforcement of the requirement to consult by making sure that, for instance, if it was—as it would very likely be—a civil servant, quite possibly it would be one of our civil servants. Clearly the Secretary of State for Wales' civil service complement is tiny—a maximum of 40 or 50—so probably it would be one of our civil servants that would be so designated and we would need for that to be capable of being done only with our agreement. The other possibility is to sort of fully devolve a mechanism, if you like, in which the Wales Emergency Co-ordinator is automatically conferred on me and clearly the officials are then chosen by their cabinet as to who would effectively do the work. That would get round that problem of needing to choose an official and designate an official. It does not work for a Whitehall department even though the designation is made by the Secretary of State. So we are still discussing those various ways round the problem you have pointed to in your question.

  Mr Henry: We do not see any significant difference between the roles of a Regional Nominated Co-ordinator and an Emergency Co-ordinator. If we go down the route of Westminster retaining the right to call emergencies then we believe that Westminster should consult with Scottish ministers in the appointment of co-ordinators, and we believe that that can be done by agreement to ensure that concordats reflect that method of operation.

  Q177  Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: Hugh made a very specific point about Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland needing to be central to discussions. At the same time we seeing an arbitrary regionalisation of regions within England. Are you concerned that, in fact, this system that is being envisaged creates a rigidity rather than the flexibility that may be needed in order to deal with the emergency wherever it happens? Before you answer that, can I perhaps extend the question a little? With respect, I got the impression this morning that you portrayed this Bill as a "backs to the wall" Bill; you talked about structures, you talked about operational duties in the event of, again—as you said—"when the unforeseen happens". The Bill very lightly touches upon foreseeing what might happen, planning ahead so that in fact we have less emergencies. How do you reconcile all this? Where, in fact, would this foresight and the resources to have a cohesive approach in terms of foreseeing what might happen come within that regional structure that we seem to be saddled with?

  Mr Morgan: I do not think emergencies can be anticipated in that way, nor their shape or scope or regional dimension, national dimension or, in the case of SARS (and I am sure SARS will not be the last of its kind), international dimension. I would contest your view that one of the purposes of this Bill is to reduce the number of emergencies. I think the Bill responds to the fear that emergencies are not going to be getting fewer in number. We might be able to reduce their impact by better planning but I think the fear is that through a combination of international air travel, plus terrorism, plus the complexities of life in the 21st Century we will in fact have not fewer emergencies but we can handle them better with more modernised legislation. Foresight, I think, is a Cabinet Office job. That should be done by them or resources commanded by them. I think it is very difficult to try and anticipate the shape and scope of the emergencies of the next 20-odd years. Some will be of a regional character (the London blackout and slightly less awful Birmingham blackout that followed it); there will be some of a character in which they are patchy but which do involve Wales, Scotland and England, as with foot-and-mouth disease. In fact, as I remember, you had super hotspots in England, you had secondary hotspots in Wales, in England and in Scotland and you have outliers in the Irish Republic, Holland and France, as I recall. So mostly it was within Great Britain. SARS was the other way round. It did almost reach Great Britain but one way or another because we were able to learn from Canadian and Hong Kong experience we never actually had a declared case, and there was a huge amount of effort that went into ensuring that. I do not think we can anticipate when they will cross national boundaries into Ireland or Holland or France; when they will cross the national boundaries within the United Kingdom or when we are trying to stop them crossing national boundaries because of international air travel. International air travel is a huge contributor to the potential for the spread of animal or health disease. Some of these will have lots of international dimensions as well. That is why we are very certain that we want the public health side to be a responder.

  Q178  Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: With respect, I think you touched upon the answer that I wanted to hear, that in fact the foresight, the intelligence and the planning at that level is, as you said, a Cabinet Office job and resources dealing with that should be commanded by the Cabinet Office. Can you expand on that, perhaps, for us?

  Mr Morgan: The Cabinet Office themselves always claim that they do not do things, they co-ordinate things or they buy-in things, or they ensure that somebody else is doing things. They are quite a small department. Again, from the point of view of international health crises like SARS then it is a WHO job, but the primary source of commanding the necessary resources to ensure resilience within the United Kingdom has got to come from the Cabinet Office. They do not have the staff to do the actual work themselves, but they have got to command that work to be done, or the liaison with international bodies if it is an international public health crisis like SARS.

  Mr Henry: The Cabinet Office already does some of that work trying to look at future events, trying to anticipate. Yes, there will be things which we can foresee. We know that with global warming we can anticipate that there will be flooding in more and more areas. What we cannot foresee is exactly where it will happen and when it will happen. So we need legislation which enables us to be able to respond to what we know could happen, but to be flexible enough to respond in a quick and effective way when it happens. We know that the very fact that we have within our society nuclear power stations means we need to plan for the potential for an accident. We hope to God that it never happens but we need to be able to plan for that potential. There are things that we just do not know about. No one could have foreseen the tragic events of September 11 in the United States, but now that it has happened we know there are things that we reasonably have got to prepare for. I think it is right that we update and modernise our legislation to reflect both the scale of some of the events that we know now could potentially happen, to build in the flexibility that is required in a very complex society—to have, I suppose, the rigidity of a consistency but the flexibility of delivery.

  Q179  Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: My final question, Chairman, on that point. You used the term that I used—the rigidity of a regional system that is arbitrary and which has little application for 365 days of the day unless there is an emergency, combined with the flexibility that you need. Can you give us an idea how that foresight, that ability to pre-empt from wherever it comes, might effectively (and I use the word advisedly) permeate the structures that this Bill suggests?

  Mr Henry: I would have thought that in terms of some of the planning which goes on, for example in terms of nuclear emergencies, we need global thinking on what is required. We need to learn from international experience, such as Chernobyl. We need to have information on what that would mean at a UK level, because we know that an event would not simply be confined to a very local area, but the immediate impact would be required locally. It might not be that it is necessarily just to do with nuclear power stations. There are very specific circumstances, for example, in Scotland to do with nuclear power submarines, whether it is the deconstruction or the handling of those. We could not leave it to local authorities and the Scottish Executive to garner all the information at a UK and international level; we need to rely on some of that planning being done. Equally, we then need to know that that information can be obtained—the best possible information—and channelled to those who at a local level are responsible for looking at environmental issues, health issues and so on.

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