Memorandum from Mid Bedfordshire District
This draft of the Civil Contingencies Bill is
a welcome response to the weaknesses that have been highlighted
in the UK Civil Protection system in recent years.
The creation of a legislative framework representative
of current best practice arrangements is supported, and will provide
the foundations upon which to develop further in the future. Questions
about the framework are linked with the regulations and guidance,
until they are published many unknowns remain. It is hoped that
with the revised version of Dealing with Disaster third Edition
only recently published, the best practice this document describes
would be included in the guidance and not be lost.
It is hard to consider funding for the new arrangements
when the funding for the existing ones is inadequate. Following
September 11 there has been no increase in funding despite an
80% increase in workload. District councils currently receive
no funding for emergency planning and receive varying levels of
service from county units. The Bill must address this. There can
be no doubt that with a greater duty placed upon responders by
the introduction of the legislation, there will be cost implications
without even considering additional duties the Bill imposes.
Performance management will be a key element
of ensuring the objectives of the governments resilience agenda
are achieved and as is welcomed. But it should not result in additional
bureaucracy. The council would like to see a form of self-assessment
established to achieve this.
The ability to co-ordinate a response to national
emergencies has shown to be lacking. Introducing regional arrangements
through Government Offices will be a welcome link provided it
can demonstrate its benefits to those responding at a local level.
Further to the above, improvements to the Emergency
Powers legislation in order to improve response to both national
and regional emergencies are acknowledged. With great power however
comes great responsibility, and adequate protection should be
ensured for both the public it will affect and the government
when invoking it.
In conclusion the Bill is welcomed and will
provide very real benefits in achieving UK resilience. There is
a need for further consultation when the regulations and guidance
are completed, and this is eagerly anticipated. The Bill team
were successful in publishing the draft on time; the council looks
forward to the benefits this Bill will bring when implemented
Q1. Is the definition of emergency the right
one? If not, in what ways should it be tightened or expanded to
exclude certain classes of event or situation?
The term "emergency" is defined twice
in the Bill, at the beginning of each part. The definitions are
virtually identical except that Part I applies to England and
Wales, and Part II applies to the UK as a whole. Treating them
as a single definition there is value in a broad approach to a
definition that is all encompassing. However, as there is no definition
of "serious threat" one can only assume this is to follow
in the regulation and guidance. It is therefore hard to pass comment
without this detail.
The Bill team stated at the Emergency Planning
Society conference 2003 that the definition in the Bill would
not replace the widely used operational term "Major Incident"
currently used by responders. The current best practice guide
produced by the Home Office now refers to "major emergencies"
as opposed to disasters or major incidents. This is described
as being an incident . . .
" . . . on such a scale that the effects
cannot be dealt with by the emergency services, local authorities
and other organisations as part of their day to day activities".
(Dealing with Disaster revised third Edition: 2003)
The regulation and guidance needs to put the
definition into practical terms, and it is hard to see how it
could be defined any differently than above. As this is commonly
used and understood, this would be welcomed.
Q2. Do you agree that the obligations imposed
on both Category 1 and 2 responders by or under the new framework
will ensure operationally effective and financially efficient
planning and response to emergencies at the local level? If not,
how should these obligations be increased or reduced?
The obligations imposed by or under the new
framework certainly have the potential to improve the arrangements,
by making it clear that in the main arrangement are in place to
some level throughout the country. Taking the view that the aim
at present is simply to strengthen the existing arrangements rather
than make radical changes, these arrangements will certainly achieve
The broad duties of Risk Assessment, Planning,
Business Continuity Planning, Warning and Informing, Sharing Information
and Co-operation are the obligations the question is referring
to, although to what level remains to be determined by the regulation
and guidance. Certainly these are to be welcomed and will bring
about clear benefits, especially in authorities where some duties
may not have such an emphasis.
The specific roles and responsibilities of the
agencies at a local level are to follow in the regulation and
guidance. This will obviously be awaited with some interest. It
is impossible to have an opinion on the effect on the level of
effectiveness and financial efficiency without more detail on
the regulation and guidance. Unless there is an understanding
of what the expectations are, how can a judgement be made of the
The inclusion of Performance Management will
be of real benefit, without this Emergency Planning could not
function as a modern accountable service. No doubt this will act
as a driver to ensure Emergency Planning is taken seriously and
receives the support from the authorities that the Bill will require
Having acknowledged the importance of Business
Continuity arrangements for Category 1 responders, there should
be consideration of placing this duty on Category 2 responders
also. The implications of two incidents in 2002, one where the
south of England lost their 999 facility for some time, and the
other where much of England was affected by wide spread loss of
electricity demonstrates the need for Category 2 responders to
have this resilience. As key stakeholders, which Category 1 responders
may rely upon during a Major Emergency, they should have this
duty place upon them.
The title of Chapter 3 of the Consultation Document
is entitled "Clear Roles and Responsibilities at a local
level". It is hoped that the regulation and guidance will
achieve this, building on best practice from documents such as
Dealing with Disaster and London Emergency Services Liaison Panel
(LESLP) Major Incident Procedures manual. There are definite differences
across the country in respect of planning and response roles.
If there are going to be benefits as outlined in the question
title, then these roles and responsibilities must be clearachieving
this in a consistent fashion across the country will have definite
impact on improving resilience, especially when considering large
cross-boundary or multiple impact incidents with massive mutual
Q3. Do you agree that the membership of categories
1 and 2 is right? If not, which organisations should be added,
moved or removed?
The membership of the categories is not hard
and fast and . . . .
"movement between the two Categories will
be possible under the Bill. New organisations may be added in
future in either Category" (Draft Civil Contingencies Bill,
consultation document: 2003).
This is obviously desirable allowing a degree
of negotiated flexibility. The Environment Agency do appear however
to be the odd one out in Category 1, as they are the only agency
listed that responds to specific hazards. The inclusion of further
agencies such as Health Service agencies has already been brought
to the attention of the Bill team, and this is supported particularly
in terms of Primary Care Trusts. In Category 2 there are some
forms of transport operators named, however not all. When considering
evacuation procedures the full participation of bus and coach
operators is essential but can be difficult to achieve. Bus and
Coach operators should be included in category 2.
Agencies that are not listed in either category
1 or 2 should be, with consent of the Local Resilience Forum (LRF),
adopted (locally) on a temporary or permanent basis if appropriate.
This would however rely on the will of the agency, as they would
be under no obligation.
Q4. Do you agree that the Bill gives the
Government the right balance of regulation making powers to meet
its aims of consistency and flexibility? If not, please explain
how the powers should be expanded or constrained.
The balance meets the aims and is accepted.
However, bearing in mind the flexibility that it allows, there
is a need for further consultation on the regulations and guidance
before they are implemented.
Q5. Do you agree that consistent arrangements
for multi-agency working should be established, through the creation
of Local Resilience Forums? If not, how else should consistency
The aim of Clause 2 of the Bill is to provide
a single framework for civil protection covering the local responder
organisations. The Bill will
". . . provide the framework to replace
the Civil Defence Act, and also reduce the reliance on permissive
powers." (Draft Civil Contingencies Bill, consultation document:
This is welcomed, as the current legislation
was designed to repel foreign invaders. The nature of the threat
has changed. This has been reflected in the best practice working
arrangements that have been established following the decade of
disasters in the 1980s and the end of the Cold War. It is only
right that the new legislation reflects this framework and the
creation of LRFs will help achieve this.
The Bill aims to provide common partnership
arrangements nationally. It is widely acknowledged that partnership
working already takes place nationally, however there are disparities
in the closeness of relationships, and membership of the working
groups in different parts of the country. This national standardisation
The consultation document states the LRF will:
"Bring together core and co-operating responders..."
(Draft Civil Contingencies Bill, consultation document: 2003).
If this is meant literally, that the LRF would
include all Category 1 and 2 members, then it would be very unwieldy
and ineffective. Nor would it be an accurate reflection of current
best practice arrangements. The LRF should include Category 1
responders only, with Category 2 members co-opted as required
for specific issues. Full meetings should take place as a sub-group
of the LRF if it is to be an effective working group that can
The use of the term "LRF" may be confusing
initially but will have its benefits in being a common acronym
that will be understood by all those in the profession, as oppose
to having MICGs, BESMIC, LESLP, HESMIC, NORMIT etc.
Q6. Do you agree that the partial Regulatory
Impact Assessment accurately reflects the costs and benefits of
the Bill proposals? If not, how should it be changed?
The estimates appear rudimentary but sensible,
if not particularly wide reaching. In the last two years workload
increased in key areas such as multi-agency working and risk assessment
by approximately 80% as a result of September 11th (LGA Emergency
Planning survey: 2003). No attempt has been made to quantify the
increase in workload the Bill will create.
The cost of business continuity onto local businesses
may cause difficulty, as it would only be participating businesses
that would pay. It is often difficult to get sustained interest
and therefore investment.
Without clear expectations from the regulations
and guidance it is difficult to agree with the Regulatory Impact
Assessment. The figures and benefits stated may be correct, but
they do not show the full picture. The costs are in relation to
implementing the new resilience framework. They do not take into
account the increase in work the Bill will create, with greater
demands for quality, higher public expectation and the additional
growth in the emergency planning profession experienced in the
last two years.
Q7. Do you agree that funding for Category
1 local authorities should be transferred from specific grant
(Civil Defence Grant) to Revenue Support Grant? If not, why should
specific grant be retained?
Being a district council there is no funding
provided for Emergency Planning. This creates a reliance on the
county unit to provide the service as they receive the Civil Defence
Grant. As stated in the answer to Question 8, emergency planning
is already under-funded, with an expectation from the local authority
to provide any shortfall to achieve the service.
Experience locally has shown how competition
from larger services such as social services or education can
make stronger bids for any additional money. With cut backs having
been made year on year, there are concerns that the already suffering
county service may face further cut-backs if funding is not ring
A question for the Bill team would be that as
district councils are placed in category 1 would this entitle
them to receive funding? Under current arrangements the county
unit receive a sum per shire district within their boundary. However,
the districts are currently unable to claim any of that sum for
their own use in emergency planning and have to fund through their
If the funding was to be transferred to the
revenue support grant, then the systems of performance management
must be in place to ensure that emergency planning is not sacrificed
for other services that the public have more contact with on a
Q8. Do you agree that the level of funding
to support the Bill is sufficient? If not, please explain why
you believe it to be too high or too low.
The current level of funding is considered by
many to be insufficient to meet the cost of current contingency
planning arrangements. This is before considering the possible
cost implications the Bill may impose.
The Civil Defence Grant is only expected to
be a contribution toward Emergency Planning, with the Local Authority
being expected to supplement the grant in order to fulfil their
duties. A recent Local Government Association (LGA) survey of
top tier authorities estimated the national cost of emergency
planning to be £32 million. The Civil Defence Grant is £19
million, providing only 60% of the expenditure (LGA Emergency
Planning survey: 2003).
This is set against a background of an 80% increase
in workload following September 11 due to greater government expectations.
The figure of £19 million was established before September
11 and has remained the same (LGA Emergency Planning survey: 2003).
Locally this has resulted in the budget of the
county unit being reduced year on year due to competition from
other services. Combined with increased workload this has resulted
in derogation to the service to the point where as a district
council the decision was taken to fund a full time Emergency Planning
Officer's post. This in itself is a cost not already considered
under the current funding arrangements.
The Bill itself does impose new dutiesor
expectations for particular duties already carried out to be completed
to a higher standard. Promotion of Business Continuity Management
is a new duty, as it places greater emphasis on Risk Management
and greater participation in Regional Resilience.
It is reasonable to assume that an authority
that is already following best practice, and has been proven by
Audit Commission inspection to be performing well will be spending
a greater amount on Emergency Planning than an authority that
is not performing comparatively. Such authorities that are leading
the way acting as "beacon authorities" should be rewarded
for their efforts, as leading in such a way will cost more than
waiting for neighbouring authorities and using their templates
Q9. Do you agree that performance should
be audited through existing mechanisms? If not, what mechanism
would you like to see established?
When referring to existing mechanisms it is
not clear whether the question implies Audit Commission inspections
or assessment through Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA),
but whatever mechanism is employed it should not result in additional
The need for an external audit of performance
is questionable. Instead a form of self-assessment should be established
that can be completed by each authority and then be submitted
to the Cabinet Office or Regional Government Office for accreditation.
This would be the route the council would support.
Making reference to the existing mechanisms,
in the case of District Councils, CPA is a relatively new process,
so to rely on it for performance auditing may be too early. However,
CPA and inspections both have the potential to be effective methods
of monitoring performance and capturing good practice. This will
require an informed selection of appropriate indicators, and inspectors
with an appropriate level of knowledge.
A NEW REGIONAL
Q10. Do you agree with the role of Regional
Nominated Co-ordinator? If not, who should take responsibility
at the regional level, and with what responsibilities?
The need for more effective co-ordination during
a national emergency has been recognised. The regional tier appears
to be the logical method of achieving this. The concern held by
many will be following the experiences of Foot and Mouth where
it simply added another layer to report to without adding any
value. Demands were made for information which had to be met,
despite the fact it was often a duplication of information provided
to the centre. There was no service offered in return. A regional
system with real value would be supported.
The role of the Regional Nominated Co-ordinator
(RNC) to chair the Regional Civil Contingencies Committee (RCCC)
is necessary. However, it would seem more logical to have an Association
of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) representative as chair from one
of the forces within the region. Whilst a "lead" agency
RNC will have the specific expertise, the Defence Select Committee
are correct in having concerns that they would not necessarily
have the broad view, leadership and incident management qualities
that would be required of them.
It would be more sensible to have an ACPO representative
who is used to chairing Strategic Co-ordinating Groups at a local
level to chair the RCCC at a regional level. This is close to
the current arrangements where the Police often feed the national
picture back to local level through the Police National Information
Q11. Do you agree with the principle of applying
special legislative measures on a regional basis? Please explain
Acknowledging the major disruptive effect invoking
such powers would bring, it seems sensible to have a level of
control to restrict it to specific regions as opposed to the whole
Q12. Do you agree that the current emergency
powers framework is outdated and needs to be replaced? If you
do not think it should be replaced, please explain why.
Q13. Do you agree that the circumstances
in which special legislative measures may be taken should be widened
from limited threats to public welfare to include threats to the
environment, to the political, administrative and economic stability
of the UK and to threats to its security resulting from war or
terrorism? If not, how would you like to see the circumstances
narrowed or extended?
Q14. Do you agree that the use of special
legislative measures should be possible on a sub-UK basis? If
not, please explain.
Q15. Do you agree that authority to declare
that special legislative measures are necessary should remain
with The Queen as Head of State, acting on the advice of Ministers?
If not, who should it sit with?
Q16. Do you agree that in the event the process
of making a Royal Proclamation would cause a delay which might
result in significant damage or harm, a Secretary of State should
be able to make the declaration in the place of The Queen as Head
of State, acting on the advice of Ministers? If not, is delay
acceptable or is there another alternative mechanism?
Q17. Do you agree that emergency regulations
should be treated as primary legislation for the purposes of the
Human Rights Act? If not, please explain why.
Q18. Do you agree that the arrangements proposed
for Scotland strike the right balance between reflecting the devolution
settlement and ensuring consistency across the UK? If not, what
changes are necessary?
Q19. Do you agree that the arrangements proposed
for Wales strike the right balance between reflecting the devolution
settlement and ensuring consistency across the UK? If not, what
changes are necessary?
Q20. Do you agree that the arrangements proposed
for Northern Ireland strike the right balance between reflecting
the devolution settlement and ensuring consistency across the
UK? If not, what changes are necessary?
Q21. Do you agree that the role and accountability
of the Emergency Co-ordinator in a devolved country should be
flexible to reflect different types of emergency? If not, what
alternative role should the Emergency Co-ordinator have?
Q22. Do you agree that the devolved administrations
should be able to declare that special legislative measures are
necessary, and take action accordingly? If not, please explain
Q23. Do you agree that London should have
different arrangements for co-operation, and that the proposals
set out are the right way to deliver this? If not, what arrangements
should be put in place?
Emergency Planning Officer