Part 2 of the Civil Contingencies Act and Swine Flu

After a lengthy delay, I finally received a response to my question posed in April about the CCA as to:

- Whether, as part of the planning for a declaration by the World Health Organization that this is a flu pandemic, the Government is considering activating Part 2 of the CCA

- if the CCA does form part of the strategy to deal with the pandemic (if declared), at what level of infection in the UK is the Government intending to enforce this Act?

As you can tell from the question, this was posed some time ago, as the outbreak has now been confirmed as a pandemic.

Gillian Merron, Minister of State in the Department of Health, who responded to the enquiry stated that the DoH, Health Protection Agency and Cabinet Office are working together to ascertain at what level of infection Government intervention would be necessary and when and how to bring forward legislation to manage public resources, adding Part 2 of the CCA is one option for delivering some of the measures under consideration.

Gillian further comments on the 'triple lock' mechanism which would need to be met before Part 2 of the Act was brought in to force. These test being:

- an emergency that threatens serious damage to human welfare, the environment or security has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur

- it is necessary to make provision urgently in order to resolve the emergency

- the emergency regulations are proportionate

Whether or not Swine Flu reaches the stage whereby Emergency Powers under the CCA is invoked or not, is something of a sideline. The real concern, is that an outbreak of Flu is deemed by the Government as a potential trigger for the Act to come in to force, which demonstrates, the way in which legislation introduced in a climate of 'fear' becomes a dangerous tool in the hands of politicians.

The 2004 revision of the CCA Scope of emergency regulations provide draconian powers to the State; the General Public have no safeguards or rights when the Act is enforced.


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