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Disaster Planning

Volume 569: debated on Wednesday 30 October 2013

1. What assessment he has made of current arrangements for disaster planning in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (900778)

The primary responsibility for emergency planning sits with local responders. The Cabinet Office works with other Departments, devolved Administrations and emergency responders to enhance the country’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.

The whole House will want to thank the emergency services, local authorities and the Met Office, who did a brilliant job working together to prepare effectively for and respond to the effects of Monday’s storm.

What specific mechanisms will the Minister put in place to ensure that the lessons highlighted in the forthcoming Hillsborough inquest will be incorporated in his Department’s policies and practice?

When the results of that come through, we will obviously look at them urgently. It was a profoundly tragic event, and many lessons will need to be learned from it. We will look at it seriously when it emerges.

In the Minister’s initial response, he praised responders and local authorities. Will he also praise parish councils—those unpaid heroes in many of our communities—which provide emergency responses, and encourage those that do not presently do so to create and implement emergency plans?

My hon. Friend makes a really good point. A lot of the response needs to be done on an extremely local basis. Many parish councils take this seriously, with volunteers who rise to the occasion superbly—a huge amount of which happened on Sunday and Monday in preparation for and in response to the storm.