Memorandum from the Chief and Assistant
Chief Fire Officers' Association
1. CACFOA supports the general thrust by
Government to improve and sustain national, regional and local
resilience. New civil contingencies legislation is an integral
part of this and the Association welcomes the proposals and its
involvement in discussions as to the content of the draft bill.
2. We have three underlying concerns with
the Draft Bill:
(a) Firstly, the role of FCDA's regarding
their current responsibilities under PSR (1996), COMAH (1999)
and REPPIR (2001), is not made clear. We understand consultation
is shortly to take place on this matter and we would anticipate
that CACFOA will be involved in such discussions at an early stage.
(b) Secondly, under current Civil Defence
regulations in some areas of the UK, local councils have arranged
for FCDA's and CFA's to undertake the council's responsibilities
for civil contingency arrangements. The draft Bill and its explanatory
notes are not clear as to future arrangements in this regard.
Section 101 of the 1972 Local Government Act states, "Subject
to any express provision contained in this Act or any Act passed
after this Act, a local authority may arrange for the discharge
of any of their functions. . . . . . . .(b) by any other local
authority". If FCDA's and CFA's are not deemed currently
to be local authorities, CACFOA believes that it is essential
for this legal loophole to be closed to enable a local council,
should it wish, to contract out some or all of its proposed duties
under the new Bill. This would be entirely consistent with Government's
thinking on "joined-up" working, collaboration and partnership
arrangements to deliver local services as expressed in Local Government
Acts of 2000 and 2001. In the case of FCDA and CFA activity on
behalf of local councils, current arrangements clearly work and
there would appear to be no obvious benefit in precluding similar
arrangements in the future.
(c) Thirdly, there is an issue regarding
resourcing adequately the proposed fire and rescue service involvement
in civil contingency planning. CACFOA would argue that, whilst
the service is engaged significantly in contingency planning at
present, the proposed role as a Category 1 responder is at a level
of intensity and extensiveness beyond that currently undertaken.
As emphasised in Chapter 3 of the consultation document, it is
proposed that Category 1 responders will be given a broad range
of civil protection duties within a framework for assessment,
prevention and planning for emergency response and business continuity.
The Bill, outlines through regulations, an intention to seek to
clarify the extent of the duties to be imposed on Category 1 responders
and the relationship between Category 1 and Category 2 responders.
The likelihood leads CACFOA to conclude an increased involvement
for the Fire & Rescue Service and commitment to civil contingency
planning which we welcome but it must be appropriately reflected
in terms of resource requirements.
However, it is not easy to quantify
increased activity given the nature of the Civil Contingency Bill
but it is clear that the Fire Service cannot satisfy the new proposals
without an increase in resource.
3. SUMMARY OF
The consultation questions are answered in the
remainder of the submission.
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?
CACFOA supports the principle of a common definition
of emergency, and the one provided in the consultation document
is comprehensive and clear. Whilst we can work with this definition
it may be worthy of further consideration as regards the proposed
use of the term "serious threat", which can be open
to differing interpretations and is difficult to quantify, compared
with the definition of emergency provided in the document "Dealing
with Disaster" which focuses upon capacity and resilience
to respond effectively to emergencies and is familiar with planners
and responders alike.
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?
CACFOA welcomes the inclusiveness of the Fire
& Rescue Service as a Category 1 responder. On balance, we
agree with the obligations imposed upon Category 1 and 2 responders
in the knowledge that similar arrangements and structures are
already in place in many areas albeit not operating at the same
level of resilience required in the draft Bill.
Q3. Do you agree that the membership of Categories
1 and 2 is right? If not, which organisations should be added,
moved or removed?
Health Service representation does not appear
to reflect the contribution that "acute" and "primary"
care trusts in particular can make and there may also be a role
for the Strategic Health Authority and the Health Protection Agency.
The same applies to the military who, we suggest, can also add
value to the planning process.
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.
Yes, generally, although the proposed arrangements
for regional resilience are not entirely clear and this is dealt
with in the responses to Questions 10 and 11.
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 concept of Local Resilience Forums (LRF's)
is sound as it builds upon effective existing arrangements.
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 Regulatory Impact Assessment focuses almost
exclusively upon business impact and we support the conclusions
of that analysis. However, as regards the providers of civil contingency
planning, there has been no robust impact assessment and that
is a major shortcoming in the consultation exercise.
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?
Civil Contingency Planning should be recognised
as a fundamental and essential part of normal work for local authorities
and emergency services. Hence, funding arrangements should reflect
appropriately the civil contingency planning needs of each through
revenue support grant.
Q8. Do you agree that the level of funding
to support the Bill is sufficient? If not, please explain which
you believe it to be too high or too low.
The level of funding for the Fire & Rescue
Service is insufficient to meet the civil contingency planning
and response requirements set out in the Draft Bill. The current
threats to the security of the UK and the economic, environment
and social sustainability of our communities require a degree
of risk management significantly beyond that currently undertaken
by most organisations at local, regional and national levels.
From a Fire & Rescue Service perspective, additional funds
will be necessary to complete intensive risk assessment in extended
areas to secure the appropriate risk control and mitigation measures
necessary to bolster existing resilience. Inevitably this will
have a "knock-on" effect as regards the scale of response
in terms of new or upgraded plant and machinery which, in turn,
demand greater levels of training to ensure competence.
Q9. Do you agree that performance should
be audited through existing mechanisms? If not, what mechanism
would you like to see established?
CACFOA believes that robust performance audit
of civil contingency planning arrangements can, and should, be
fulfilled through existing mechanisms.
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?
It is acknowledged that a regional dimension
for the co-ordinator of civil contingency planning and response
is necessary but it would appear that the lack of a Regional Assembly
structure in England has led to some confusion as regards the
role of the Regional Nominated Co-ordinator and how he or she
will interface with central government and local responders in
a time of crisis and a lack of clarity as to what they are to
do and what specific skills and expertise they should provide.
Q11. Do you agree with the principle of applying
special legislative measures on a regional basis? Please explain
Yes, but in applying special measures it needs
to be recognised that emergencies tend to ignore administrative
boundaries and that the planning arrangements need to address
incidents of pan region and sub region dimensions.
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?
Yes. It is necessary for emergency powers legislation
to provide for a wide range of disruptive challenges, natural
or deliberate, which we face today.
Q14. Do you agree that the use of special
legislative measures should be possible on a sub-UK basis? If
not, please explain.
Yes. Please refer to answer regarding Question
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?
Clearly this is a contentious issue and one
which has a direct bearing upon the devolved administrations.
From a practical perspective CACFOA would wish to see a single
mechanism applied across the UK whether that should remain with
the Queen, the Prime Minister or the First Minister, or its equivalent,
in the devolved administrations.
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?
If the process of making a Royal Proclamation
could cause a serious delay which adversely affected a response
to an emergency, thereby increasing the risk in dealing with the
threats outlined in the definition of an emergency, then alternative
arrangements as set out in the answer to Question 15 should be
Q17. Do you agree that the emergency regulations
should be treated as primary legislation for the purpose 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?
We support arrangements and measures to secure
UK resilience and wish to see consistency in the application of
such across nations and regions. We note as regards Scotland that
the local responders' part of the Draft Bill does not apply. We
anticipate that the Scottish Executive will provide consistency
in this regard at local (32 unitary councils), regional (8 Joint
Emergency Co-ordination arrangements) and national (Scottish Emergency
Co-ordination Committee) levels.
As regards special legislative measures in the
devolved administrations, we support the proposal to ensure consistency
Finally, regarding the question of special legislative
measures declared by the UK Government, we welcome the fact that
the Government is also considering whether each of the devolved
administrations should be able to make such a declaration, and
to take measures so far as they are within their competence.
The Association's members in Scotland would
prefer to see a single line of accountability via the Scottish
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?
Consistent with our response to Question 18
regarding Scotland, we support arrangements and measures to secure
UK resilience and wish to see consistency applied across nations
and regions. We note that the local reponders' part of the Bill
will apply to Wales and we believe this will need to reflect the
different administrative arrangements which prevail.
The Emergency Powers part of the Bill will apply
to Wales as will the delivery of the proposed framework for civil
contingency planning. However, the proposals in the consultation
are not clear as to whether UK Government or the Welsh Assembly
Government will be responsible for delivering these measures.
CACFOA believes further discussions on these matters are essential
and our Association's members in Wales would prefer to see a single
line of accountability to the Welsh Assembly Government.
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?
CACFOA supports a consistent application of
measures to secure UK resilience and wish to see that extended
across nations and regions. We note that the local responders'
part of the Draft Bill does not apply to Northern Ireland and
we anticipate that the Office of the First Minister and Deputy
First Minister will provide consistency in this regard.
The Emergency Powers part of the Bill apply
to Northern Ireland and we would wish to see a consistent application
of declaration to apply across all devolved administrations within
their respective competencies to enforce such special legislative
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?
The Association believes that the Emergency
Co-ordination in a devolved country should be accountable to the
devolved administration via their Civil Contingencies Committee
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
We believe that consistency of application is
an important issue to UK resilience. We see no obvious reason
why devolved administrations should not be permitted under this
proposed legislation to declare an emergency and take whatever
legislative measures are necessary to deal with it within its
competency so to do.
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?
The arrangements established in London regarding
co-operation are in our view entirely relevant and appropriate.
Indeed, given London's strong track record in both preventing
and dealing with the consequences of emergencies and, in particular,
the efficient manner in which the local authorities and emergency
services have co-operated, we are surprised and disappointed to
note that the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority is
proposed to be the only Fire & Civil Defence Authority to
retain a responsibility for supporting metropolitan boroughs and,
subject to further consultation, for retaining the responsibility
for control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations, the
Pipeline Safety Regulations (PSR), and the Radiological (Emergency
Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations (REPPIR).