The Controversial Civil Contingencies Act 2004 Royal Assent on Thursday 18th November 2004, and is now the law.
Compared with the relatively unimportant Hunting Act 2004, which also completed its Parliamentary Progress at the same time, there has been virtually no press or media coverage of what is rightly described as the most draconian and powerful piece of legislation since the 1920 Emergency Powers Act.
The Act does not have any easy to understand, clear safeguards and independent checks and balances. Nobody knows what circumstances may or may not cause an Emergency to be declared.
There is no insistance on the use of Digital Signatures to authenticate either the initial Orders declaring and Emergency or the actual Emergency Regulations, which by their very nature are likely to have to be implemented in a hurry. Therefore there will be accidental or malicious hoaxes in the future, for which there will be no punishment of the malicous or the incompetent.
Emergency Regulations can potentially have the full force of Primary Legislation and the Royal Prerogative, with no need for prior Parliamentary approval, scrutiny or amendment i.e. absolute legal power without limit.
We do not believe that the current Government or Opposition politicians would abuse the enormous powers which they have just granted themselves, but we do believe that they have created an Enabling Act which would help any future dictatorship to seize power, using this legal "rod for our own backs".
What the Civil Contingencies Act does not do, is to actually provide the money for state of the art emergency communications systems, equipment, trained personnel, and the large scale realistic training exercises involving real forced evacuations of the general public etc. which are needed for realistic civil defence of the country.
Do you feel safer and more protected from future widescale natural and man made disasters, as a result of the passage of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 ?
Our previous concerns about the Civil Contingencies Bill have mostly not been answered and still remain as fundamental flaws in the Act.