Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Are the rioters about to get anti-terrotist emergency powers enacted? #LondonRiots

COBRA are meeting at the moment but the media while awaiting the Prime Minister's statement are speculating that there may be a recall of Parliament on Thursday.

Why would such a recall be made? Possibly to enact the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. It is clear that the definition of an emergency certainly covers what we have seen in recent days.

(1)In this Part “emergency” means—
(a)an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the United Kingdom,
(b)an event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment of a place in the United Kingdom, or
(c)war, or terrorism, which threatens serious damage to the security of the United Kingdom.
(2)For the purposes of subsection (1)(a) an event or situation threatens damage to human welfare only if it involves, causes or may cause—
(a)loss of human life,
(b)human illness or injury,
(c)homelessness,
(d)damage to property,
(e)disruption of a supply of money, food, water, energy or fuel,
(f)disruption of a system of communication,
(g)disruption of facilities for transport, or
(h)disruption of services relating to health.
(3)For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) an event or situation threatens damage to the environment only if it involves, causes or may cause—
(a)contamination of land, water or air with biological, chemical or radio-active matter, or
(b)disruption or destruction of plant life or animal life.
(4)A Minister of the Crown, or, in relation to Scotland, the Scottish Ministers, may by order—
(a)provide that a specified event or situation, or class of event or situation, is to be treated as falling, or as not falling, within any of paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (1);
(b)amend subsection (2) so as to provide that in so far as an event or situation involves or causes disruption of a specified supply, system, facility or service—
i)it is to be treated as threatening damage to human welfare, or
(ii)it is no longer to be treated as threatening damage to human welfare.
(5)The event or situation mentioned in subsection (1) may occur or be inside or outside the United Kingdom.

There are sweeping powers in the Act. It allows under the monitoring of Parliament and/or the devolved powers for emergency powers, necessary for the overcoming of the emergency to be enacted. There is a quite a scope for just what those powers entail

Section 22
(1)Emergency regulations may make any provision which the person making the regulations is satisfied is appropriate for the purpose of preventing, controlling or mitigating an aspect or effect of the emergency in respect of which the regulations are made.
(2)In particular, emergency regulations may make any provision which the person making the regulations is satisfied is appropriate for the purpose of—
  • (a) protecting human life, health or safety,
  • (b) treating human illness or injury,
  • (c) protecting or restoring property,
  • (d) protecting or restoring a supply of money, food, water, energy or fuel,
  •  (e) protecting or restoring a system of communication(e)protecting or restoring a system of communication
  • (f) protecting or restoring facilities for transport,
  • (g) protecting or restoring the provision of services relating to health,
  • (h) protecting or restoring the activities of banks or other financial institutions,
  • (i) preventing, containing or reducing the contamination of land, water or air,
  • (j)preventing, reducing or mitigating the effects of disruption or destruction of plant life or animal life,
  • (k) protecting or restoring activities of Parliament, of the Scottish Parliament, of the Northern Ireland Assembly or of the National Assembly for Wales, or
  • (l)protecting or restoring the performance of public functions.
(3)Emergency regulations may make provision of any kind that could be made by Act of Parliament or by the exercise of the Royal Prerogative; in particular, regulations may—
(a)confer a function on a Minister of the Crown, on the Scottish Ministers, on the National Assembly for Wales, on a Northern Ireland department, on a coordinator appointed under section 24 or on any other specified person (and a function conferred may, in particular, be—
 (i)a power, or duty, to exercise a discretion;
(ii)a power to give directions or orders, whether written or oral);
(b)provide for or enable the requisition or confiscation of property (with or without compensation);
(c)provide for or enable the destruction of property, animal life or plant life (with or without compensation);
(d)prohibit, or enable the prohibition of, movement to or from a specified place;
(e)require, or enable the requirement of, movement to or from a specified place;
(f)prohibit, or enable the prohibition of, assemblies of specified kinds, at specified places or at specified times;
(g)prohibit, or enable the prohibition of, travel at specified times;
(h)prohibit, or enable the prohibition of, other specified activities;
(i)create an offence of—
(i)failing to comply with a provision of the regulations;
(ii)failing to comply with a direction or order given or made under the regulations;
(iii)obstructing a person in the performance of a function under or by virtue of the regulations;
(j)disapply or modify an enactment or a provision made under or by virtue of an enactment;
(k)require a person or body to act in performance of a function (whether the function is conferred by the regulations or otherwise and whether or not the regulations also make provision for remuneration or compensation);
(l)enable the Defence Council to authorise the deployment of Her Majesty’s armed forces;
(m)make provision (which may include conferring powers in relation to property) for facilitating any deployment of Her Majesty’s armed forces;
(n)confer jurisdiction on a court or tribunal (which may include a tribunal established by the regulations);
(o)make provision which has effect in relation to, or to anything done in—
(i)an area of the territorial sea,
(ii)an area within British fishery limits, or
(iii)an area of the continental shelf;
(p)make provision which applies generally or only in specified circumstances or for a specified purpose;
(q)make different provision for different circumstances or purposes.

Yes in the midst of that are the powers to declare martial law more or less and to make it an offence to fail to comply. It is possible that the rioters may have ended up bringing about such a threat that is even greater than any overseas terrorist threat to the UK in recent years.

Update As I was writing this the Prime Minister said he would be recalling Parliament on Thursday. What powers and actions they discuss on that day we shall have to wait and see.

Update The Hon Lady Mark has told us that his wife Baroness Scott of Needham Market has been told that the Lords will also be recalled tomorrow. Does this mean that there will be some sort of primary legislation, or a vote required on Thursday? Does this mean that the draconion parts of the Civil Contingencies Act may be asked for?

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