Examination of Witnesses (Questions 236-239)|
16 OCTOBER 2003
Q236 Chairman: Minister, good afternoon.
I am sure you will be happy to know that the press and televisions
have decided to ignore us on this occasion. We know both your
team members. Perhaps for the sake of the record you would introduce
them to us.
Mr Alexander: Sure.
I am conscious of the fact that there is a large number of questions
to answer so perhaps I could make a very brief statement and during
that I will introduce both my team members. First of all, it would
be remiss of me to say anything other than I am delighted to be
here and to have the opportunity to provide evidence to you before
the Committee. You will have seen from my letter updating you
on the Government's position on some of the key issues that no
doubt you are keen to discuss today, but I would emphasise that
I regard that as the starting point of the discussion. We will
be happy to elaborate on any of the points that were raised in
the letter. Thirdly, I would also want to place on record that
already the Government has found great merit and benefit in the
pre-legislative process that we are undergoing at the moment and
in that regard we are already grateful for your endeavours on
this Committee. Roger Hargreaves is head of the team that is responsible
for the Bill and Rebecca Lane is the lead lawyer supporting the
Bill through the Cabinet Office. That concludes my introductory
remarks. I am happy to answer your questions.
Q237 Chairman: Thank you very much.
When do you expect to publish the draft regulations for Part 1?
The draft regulations will be published alongside the Bill, when
it is introduced. We will consult publicly on the regulations
following Royal Assent.
Q238 Chairman: So
this will actually be a fresh consultation exercise?
There will be a public consultation following Royal Assent. But
the draft regulations will be available from introduction onwards,
so discussion of our proposals will begin much earlier.
Chairman: Thank you.
Q239 Lord Archer of Sandwell:
I wonder whether I could ask you first about clause 1(1), where
it says that the definition of an `emergency' is "an event
or situation which presents a serious threat to ...", and
then the various things are listed. We have heard from some of
our witnesses about the distinction between a serious threat of
some kind of harm and a threat of some kind of serious harm. A
serious threat seems to imply a threat of something which is likely
to happen irrespective of whether, when it does happen, it is
serious harm or not. Have you given any thought to that?
We have given thought to that matter. My understanding is that
it actually reflects legal advice we have received, which is that
the notion of serious threat incorporates both the concept of
a prospective threat but contains within it the notion of serious
harm and in that regard the distinction is not as great as it
might appear upon first examination.