Emergency Powers Acts 1920 and 1964 and Civil Protection in Peacetime Act 1986


The EPA 1920 and the 1986 Act to be replaced by the proposed Civil Contingencies Bill. The EPA 1964 remains in place.

Emergency Powers Act 1920


An Act to make exceptional provision for the Protection of the Community in cases of Emergency.[29th October 1920.]

BE IT ENACTED by the King s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

1. - (1) If at any time it appears to His Majesty that any action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any persons or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as to be calculated, by interfering with the supply and distribution of food, water, fuel, or light, or with the means of locomotion, to deprive the community, or any substantial portion of the community, of the essentials of life, His Majesty may, by proclamation (hereinafter referred to as a proclamation of emergency), declare that a state of emergency exists.

No such proclamation shall be in force for more than one month, without prejudice to the issue of another proclamation at or before the end of that period.

(2) Where a proclamation of emergency has been made, the occasion thereof shall forthwith be communicated to Parliament, and, if Parliament is then separated by such adjournment or prorogation as will not expire within five days, a proclamation shall be issued for the meeting of Parliament within five days, and Parliament shall accordingly meet and sit upon the day appointed by that proclamation, and shall continue to sit and act in like manner as if it had stood adjourned or prorogued to the same day.

2. - (1) Where a proclamation of emergency has been made and so long as the proclamation is in force, it shall be lawful for His Majesty in Council, by Order, to make regulations for securing the essentials of life to the community, and those regulations may confer or impose on a Secretary of State or other Government department, or any other persons in His Majesty's service or acting on His Majesty's behalf, such powers and duties as His Majesty may deem necessary for the preservation of the peace, for securing and regulating the supply and distribution of food, water, fuel, light, and other necessities, for maintaining the means of transit or locomotion, and for any other purposes essential to the public safety and the life of the community, and may make such provisions incidental to the powers aforesaid as may appear to His Majesty to be required for making the exercise of those powers effective:

Provided that nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorise the making of any regulations imposing any form of compulsory military service or industrial conscription:

Provided also that no such regulation shall make it an offence for any person or persons to take part in a strike, or peacefully to persuade any other person or persons to take part in a strike.

(2) Any regulations so made shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after they are made, and shall not continue in force after the expiration of seven days from the time when they are so laid unless a resolution is passed by both Houses providing for the continuance thereof.

(3) The regulations may provide for the trial, by courts, of summary jurisdiction, of persons guilty of offences against the regulations; so, however, that the maximum penalty which may be inflicted for any offence against such regulations shall be imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term of three months, or a fine of one hundred pounds, or both such imprisonment and fine, together with the forfeiture of any goods or money in respect of which the offence has been committed: Provided that no such regulations shall alter any existing procedure in criminal cases, or confer any right to punish by fine or imprisonment without trial.

(4) The regulations so made shall have effect as if enacted in this Act, but may be added to, altered, or revoked by resolution of both Houses of Parliament or by regulations made in like manner and subject to the like provisions as the original regulations; and regulations made under this section shall not be deemed to be statutory rules within the meaning of section one of the Rules Publication Act, 1893.

(5) The expiry or revocation of any regulations so made shall not be deemed to have affected the previous operation thereof, or the validity of any action taken thereunder, or any penalty or punishment incurred in respect of any contravention or failure to comply therewith, or any proceeding or remedy in respect of any such punishment or penalty.

3. - (1) This Act may be cited as the Emergency Powers Act, 1920.

(2) This Act shall not apply to Ireland.

Emergency Powers Act 1964


An Act to amend the Emergency Powers Act 1920 and make permanent the Defence (Armed Forces) Regulations 1939. [10th June 1964]

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

1. In section I(I) of the Emergency Powers Act 1920 (by virtue of which Her Majesty may by proclamation declare that a state of emergency exists if at any time it appears to Her that any action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any persons or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as to be calculated, by interfering with the supply and distribution of food, water, fuel or light, or with the means of locomotion, to deprive the community, or any substantial portion of the community, of the essentials of life), for the words from 'any action' to 'so extensive a scale' there shall be substituted the words 'there have occurred, or are about to occur, events of such a nature'.

2. The Defence (Armed Forces) Regulations 1939 in the form set out in Part C of Schedule 2 to the Emergency Laws (Repeal) Act I959 (which regulations enable the temporary employment in agricultural work or in other work, being urgent work of national importance, of members of the armed forces of the Crown to be authorised) shall become permanent.

3. - (I) This Act may be cited as the Emergency Powers Act 1964.

(2) Section I of this Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland.

Civil Protection in Peacetime Act 1986


An Act to enable local authorities to use their civil defence resources in connection with emergencies and disasters unconnected with any form of hostile attack by a foreign power. [26th June 1986]

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and
Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

[Preliminary]

1.-(1) This Act applies to any local authority within the meaning of the Civil Defence Act 1948 on whom any functions are for the time being conferred under section 2 (civil defence functions) of that Act; and in the following provisions of this Act "local authority " means a local authority to whom this Act applies.

(2) In this Act -

"civil defence" has the same meaning as in the Civil Defence Act 1948;
"civil defence functions", in relation to a local authority, means all such functions as are for the time being conferred on the authority under section 2 of the
Civil Defence Act 1948;
"civil defence resources", in relation to a local authority, means all the resources maintained, provided, used or held by the authority for civil defence purposes,
including personnel (whether employees or volunteers), premises, equipment, services and facilities.

[Use of civil defence resources in emergencies or disasters]

2.-(1) Where an emergency or disaster involving destruction of or danger to life or property occurs or is imminent or there is reasonable ground for apprehending such an emergency or disaster, and a local authority are of opinion that it is likely to affect the whole or part of their area or all or some of its inhabitants, the authority may use any of their civil defence resources in taking action (either alone or jointly with any other person or body and either in their area or elsewhere in or outside the United Kingdom) which is calculated to avert, alleviate or eradicate in their area or among its inhabitants the
effects or potential effects of the event, notwithstanding that the event is unconnected with any form of hostile attack by a foreign power.

(2) A local authority whose civil defence functions include the function of making, keeping under review and revising plans for any matter may perform that function so as to allow for the possible occurrence of such an emergency or disaster and facilitate the use of all or any of their civil defence resources
in connection with any such emergency or disaster that may occur or become imminent or which there may be reasonable ground for apprehending.

(3) References in the Civil Defence Act 1948 to functions conferred on a local authority under section 2 of that Act do not include an, power conferred on them by subsection (1) or (2) above; but the fact that expenses incurred by a local authority in or in connection with the discharge of functions conferred on them under section 2 of that Act are incurred (whether in the repair or replacement of damaged or expended equipment or otherwise) in circumstances resulting from the exercise of any such power shall not prevent those expenses from qualifying for grant under regulations made under section 3 of that Act.

(4) There shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament any increase attributable to this section in the sums payable out of money so provided under any other Act.

3.-(1) This Act may be cited as the Civil Protection in Peacetime Act 1986.

(2) This Act shall come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which it is passed.

(3) This Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.

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