HC Deb 10 January 2002 vol 377 c1010W
Mr. Rosindell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the projects planned under the Ghent Statement on Terrorism, Point 5,(a) to store evaluations of (i) risks, (ii) alert and (iii) intervention,(b) for the prevention of chemical and biological attack and (c) on the appointment of a European Co-ordinator for Civil Protection Measures. [22887]

Mr. Blunkett

I wrote to hon. Members on 9 November 2001 setting out the comprehensive review of arrangements for protecting the public that I am leading. I explained that a ministerially led sub-group was reviewing contingency and other arrangements to protect the United Kingdom against the effects of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) means but that it is not sensible for me to elaborate on all of the arrangements we are putting in place.

More generally, a short-term action plan was agreed by the Directors General of Civil protection and this called for, among other things: The identification of rapid response teams and setting up a group of experts available 24 hours a day, to offer advice; Enhancement of the existing network of 24-hour contact points to handle any request for or offer of assistance; and Gathering information on serum, vaccines, antibiotics and availability of hospital beds for those seriously affected.

Additionally, a workshop was set up under the Belgian Presidency for 17 and 18 December 2001. That brought together experts in this field who will draw up proposals for action plans for the medium and longer term.

The Civil Protection Co-ordinator has yet to be appointed. Members states await details of the duties and responsibilities proposed for this post and whether these are to be purely administrative or whether an operational role is envisaged. The question of where the Co-ordinator should be located and what the reporting arrangements should be have also yet to be finalised.