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Only in Part Two, after 13 pages, does the truly extraordinary nature of this legislation suddenly explode off the page, as Section 21 sets out the powers it will give to a tiny group of ministers and "regional co-ordinators" in the event of an emergency being declared.
The conditions for this could hardly be more loosely or widely defined, including anything from a terrorist incident to flooding, a chemical spill or a recurrence of foot and mouth.
In any such instance, senior ministers (including whips) will be given virtually unlimited powers to do anything they think fit, virtually without parliamentary control. They will be empowered to "disapply" any law or act of Parliament they choose, simply by issuing regulations.
They will be permitted to order any person or body to go anywhere, or to "perform any function"; to forbid any travel or movement; to order the requisition, confiscation or destruction of any property (with or without compensation); and to prohibit any assemblies of persons, however small.
This bill enables the Government to declare a State of Emergency on trivial or "threatened" events (e.g. an oil slick, threatened "damage to property", threatened "destruction of plant life", threatened "disruption of a supply of money"). Neither the Second World War nor IRA terrorism brought about such draconian legislation.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"The draft Bill would have allowed the imposition of an authoritarian state. The new Bill is only better in that it paves the road to an authoritarian state. The government is really naive if it thinks people will not read the fine print of the new Bill and realise that it has preserved nearly all the powers it originally proposed - albeit in a different form - and added new contentious provisions which were not in the first draft"