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Civil Contingency Planning

Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his Department's (a) responsibilities and (b) assets with regard to civil contingency planning; what funds are committed; what action he is taking within his Department to improve such planning; and what action he is taking in collaboration with other departments. [102624]

(a) I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office on 21 March 2003, Official Report, columns 957–58W.

(b) The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister civil contingency responsibilities include the readiness of the Fire Service to respond to civil threats, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack, the ability of the regions to engage in effective emergency planning; and earthquakes and major building structural failures. For the Fire Service, a total of £56 million has been committed to the New Dimension mass decontamination programme. On search and rescue, £3 million has been made available for the training of responders, the purchase of technical search and rescue and heavy rescue equipment, and the provision of training rigs at the Fire Service College; and a further £2 million to provide for the special needs of the capital.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is establishing regional resilience teams in Government Offices from 1 April 2003 to assist in providing multi-agency strategic direction to civil protection planning and preparedness at regional level.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is also responsible for the inter-agency London Resilience Team, which acts to drive and co-ordinate emergency planning against a catastrophic incident in the capital. It has reviewed preparedness in the capital and developed an urgent programme of action to strengthen the high level of resilience.

A small unit co-ordinates the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's response to broader civil contingency issues and the development of plans and capabilities in relation to its responsibilities. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is also taking appropriate actions to ensure the resilience of it's own operations. This includes collaboration with other Departments.