Although effective multi-agency arrangements were in place to deal with civil emergencies, whatever their cause, the statutory framework needed updating and the government was preparing the ground for that, cabinet office minister Christopher Leslie told MPs.
Replying to Colin Burgon, Labour MP for Elmet, who asked whether councils with high population density could cope with varied emergency scenarios they might face, the minister paid tribute to local authority emergency planning officers. Their preparedness and work was excellent.
Shadow cabinet office minister Tim Collins said many local authorities remained deeply disappointed at the level of support and guidance from central government following events of 11 September. He asked the minister whether the cabinet office had now issued definitive guidance to all local authorities about what they should do to prepare for any repetition of 11 September or anything like it.
The minister said authorities remained on the alert for any terrorist threat. He added: 'As for discussion with local authorities, a ream of advice is available for emergency planning officers. The website at www.ukresilience.info should be sufficient to provide up-to-date information from the central news co-ordination centre about a number matters...
'Advice to postal services and a series of other agencies, including health and fire authorities, is available in the public domain, as well as on the basis of the emergency planning college and the training that is done through the civil contingencies secretariat'.
The minister said the white paper on regional government included information on how the government intended to give responsibilities to regional assemblies for civil contingency matters, and to strengthen the regions that did not opt for elected assemblies.
Hansard 22 May 2002: Column 278-279