Co-ordination of contingency plans to protect London's infrastructure 'was
not generally regarded as a classic text book example', said former Labour
He was commenting on a reply by home office minister Lord Rooker, explaining
who was responsible for co-ordinated civil defence in London.
The minister said: 'A range of contingency plans to protect London's
infrastructure are being co-ordinated through a sub-committee of the civil
contingencies committee. The civil contingencies committee is chaired by the
home secretary and the London resilience committee is chaired by the minister
'Operationally, the co-ordination of any response to a major incident in
London is the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police'.
He added later that the civil contingencies committee now had a separate
sub-committee for UK resilence. A third sub-committee dealt with chemical,
biological, radiological and nuclear incidents.
Liberal Democrat Lord Watson of Richmond saidin the past London had faced
high danger and high risk without panic, but the price of calm was clear
evidence of co-ordination in advance of anything happening. He asked if the
minister saw it as a high priority to communicate simply to Londoners the
chain of command and areas of responsibility, and in particular to clarify
the role of the elected mayor.
Lord Rooker said: 'The mayor of London has a full role to play in that aspect
of the [resilience] committee's deliberations. There is a key role for the
mayor in communicating the issue to Londoners. He is already doing that with
The minister added there was a high state of co-ordination among emergency
planning officers in all the large cities around the country. Things had
changed since 11 September, but plans were well prepared before then because
of the situation the country had faced for the past 30 years.
Lord Marsh asked who was the most senior person. The mayor was obviously a
powerful person; was he subordinate to somebody else, he wondered.
The minister repeated that, operationally, the police were in charge,
adding: 'The mayor has a key role in communicating and speaking for the people
of London. He plays a central part in the London resilience sub-committee and
communicate the issues to londoners.
'There are 32 London boroughs, as well as the City of London, making 33
authorities. There are separate emergency services, with a London emergency
services liaison panel. The plans of all the emergency planning offices are
being reviewed at the moment. That work is ongoing.
'There is the issue of the utility undertakings as well. There is a lot of
co-ordination going on. exercises take place, although they are not always
advertised. In June last year there was a major exercise in London called
Operation Trump Card, based on a chemical incident. Many lessons learny from
that have been put into the existing plans'.
Conservative Lord Dixon-Smith asked the minister to explain the relationship
between the civil contingencies committee and the London Fire and Emergency
Planning Authority, whose powers went back to the Civil defence Act 1948.
that authority would certainly consider that it had a significant role to
Lord Rooker replied: 'The civil contingencies committee is a committee of the
cabinet. There are other liaison arrangements, but they are all co-ordinated
from the centre. No one is going off doing any freelance work. Otherwise we
could not ensure co-ordination among 33 local authorities, plus the emergency
services - the police, ambulance service, the British Transport Police, the
fire brigade and others.
'There is good co-ordination between all the relevant authorities and the
emergency services, as well as the utility providers. They had been broken up
over recent years but are now brought within the loop. There are no turf
wars. I have tried to explain the situation as clearly as I can'.
Hansard 5 Nov: Column 4-6