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House of Commons
Session 1999-2000
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Monday 31st January 2000

The House met at half-past Two o'clock.
PRAYERS.
1First Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation,—Mr Barry Jones reported from the First Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation the draft Immigration (Regularisation Period for Overstayers) Regulations 2000.
 
        Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee to lie upon the Table.
2Fifth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation,—Mr Bowen Wells reported from the Fifth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation the draft National Assembly for Wales (Transfer of Functions) Order 2000.
 
        Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee to lie upon the Table.
3Carers and Disabled Children Bill,—Ordered, That the Explanatory Notes relating to the Carers and Disabled Children Bill be printed [Bill 13-EN].
4Utilities Bill,—The Order of the day being read, for the Second Reading of the Utilities Bill;
 
        And a Motion being made, and the Question being proposed, That the Bill be now read a second time;
 
        An Amendment was proposed to the Question, to leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question and add the words 'this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Utilities Bill because, although it contains worthwhile provisions for merging the electricity and gas regulatory authorities, for separating the licensing of supply and distribution of electricity and for introducing new electricity trading arrangements, it also contains measures which increase regulation and intervention by government in the utility sector; which impair transparency and accountability in the regulatory framework; which add to industry costs which will ultimately be passed on to consumers; which introduce powers to levy unlimited fines; and which significantly undermine the independence of the regulators', instead thereof.—(Mrs Angela Browning.)
 
        And the Question being put, That the Amendment be made;
 
        The House divided.
 
          Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Oliver Heald, Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: 136.
 
          Tellers for the Noes, Mrs Anne McGuire, Mr Graham Allen: 343.
 
        So the Question was negatived.
 
        And the Main Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 62 (Amendment on second or third reading);—It was agreed to.
 
        The Bill was accordingly read a second time and stood committed to a Standing Committee.
5Utilities Bill [Money],—Her Majesty's Recommendation having been signified to the proposed Motion relating to Utilities Bill [Money];
 
        A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52 (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills), That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Utilities Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of—
 
        (1) any expenditure incurred by the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority or the Telecommunications Authority by virtue of the Act;
 
        (2) any expenditure incurred by the Secretary of State by virtue of the Act;
 
        (3) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under any other Act—(Mr Gerry Sutcliffe):—It was agreed to.
6Utilities Bill [Ways and Means],—A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52 (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills), That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Utilities Bill, it is expedient to authorise—
 
        (1) the inclusion in—
 
          (a) licences granted under the Telecommunications Act 1984, the Gas Act 1986 or the Electricity Act 1989; and
 
          (b) appointments made under Chapter I of Part II of the Water Industry Act 1991;
 
    of conditions requiring the payment of increased amounts payable into the Consolidated Fund; and
 
        (2) the payment of sums into the Consolidated Fund—(Mr Gerry Sutcliffe):—It was agreed to.
7London Government,—Ordered, That the Local Authorities (Funds) (England) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 1999 be referred to a Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation.—(Mr Gerry Sutcliffe.)
8Catering,—Ordered, That Mr Paul Keetch be discharged from the Catering Committee and Bob Russell be added to the Committee.—(Mr Paul Tyler, on behalf of the Committee of Selection.)
9Adjournment,—Resolved, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mr Gerry Sutcliffe.)
 
        And accordingly the House, having continued to sit till sixteen minutes to Eleven o'clock, adjourned till to-morrow.
[Adjourned at 10.44 p.m.
Betty Boothroyd
Speaker        

Madam Speaker will take the Chair at half-past Two o'clock.

APPENDIX I
Papers presented or laid upon the Table:
Papers subject to Affirmative Resolution:
1Overseas Development and Co-operation,—Draft African Development Fund (Eighth Replenishment) Order 1999 [by Act] [Secretary Clare Short].
2Pensions,—Draft Guaranteed Minimum Pensions Increase Order 2000 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Darling].
3Social Security,—(1) Draft Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2000 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Darling]; and
 
        (2) draft Social Security (Contributions) (Re-rating and National Insurance Funds Payments) Order 2000 [by Act] [Dawn Primarolo].
Papers subject to Negative Resolution:
4Education,—Infant Class Sizes (Admission and Standard Numbers) (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I., 2000, No. 180), dated 28th January 2000 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Blunkett].
5Health and Safety,—Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (S.I., 2000, No. 128), dated 20th January 2000 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
6National Health Service,—Health Authorities Act 1995 (Rectification of Transitional Arrangements) Order 2000 (S.I., 2000, No. 179), dated 27th January 2000 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Milburn].
7Sea Fisheries,—Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Satellite Monitoring Measures) Order 2000 (S.I., 2000, No. 181), dated 30th January 2000 [by Act] [Mr Nicholas Brown].
8Social Security,—Social Security (Contributions) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 (S.I., 2000, No. 175), dated 27th January 2000 [by Act] [Dawn Primarolo].
9Social Security (Northern Ireland),—Social Security (Contributions) (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2000 (S.I., 2000, No. 176), dated 27th January 2000 [by Act] [Dawn Primarolo].
10Telecommunications,—(1) Public Telecommunication System Designation (Vine Telecom Networks Limited) Order 2000 (S.I., 2000, No. 163), and
 
        (2) Public Telecommunication System Designation (WTI Telecom (UK) Limited) Order 2000 (S.I., 2000, No. 162)
 
    dated 25th January 2000 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Byers].
Other Papers:
11Appropriation Accounts, 1998-99,—Appropriation Accounts of the sums granted by Parliament for 1998-99 for Classes:
 
        (1) IV (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the Intervention Board Executive Agency),
 
        (2) V (Trade and Industry and Exports Credit Guarantee Department),
 
        (3) VI (Environment, Transport and the Regions),
 
        (4) VII (Home Office and Charity Commission),
 
        (5) VIII (Lord Chancellor's and Law Officers' Departments),
 
        (6) XIII (Scotland and the Forestry Commission),
 
        (7) XVI (Departments of the Chancellor of the Exchequer),
 
        (8) XVII (Cabinet Office: Office of Public Service etc), and
 
        (9) XVIII, XVIIIA and XVIIIB (Cabinet Office: other services, Privy Council Office, Parliament etc; House of Commons; National Audit Office)
 
        [by Act]; to be printed; [Nos. 11-IV, -V, -VI, -VII, -VIII, -XIII, -XVI, -XVII and -XVIII] [Mr Stephen Timms].
12Aviation and Maritime Security,—Report for 1999 by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions under section 44 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 on the numbers of notices served by him under section 19 of the 1990 Act, the number of directions given by him under sections 19, 21, 22, 23 and 24 of the Act, and the number of enforcement notices served by authorised persons under the Act [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
13Aviation Security,—Report for 1999 by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions under section 23 of the Aviation Security Act 1982 as amended by the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 on the numbers of notices served by him under section 11 of the 1982 Act as amended, the number of directions given by him under sections 12, 13, 13A and 14 of the amended Act, and the number of enforcement notices served by authorised persons under the Act [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
14Channel Tunnel Security,—Report for 1999 by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions under Article 35 of the Channel Tunnel (Security) Order 1994 on the numbers of notices served by him under Article 11, directions given by him under articles 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the Order, and enforcement notices served by authorised persons [by Statutory Instrument] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
15Culture, Media and Sport,—Government Response to the First Report from the Culture Media and Sport Committee Session 1999-00, Countdown to the Millennium [by Command] [Cm. 4589] [Mr Secretary Smith].
16Defence Executive Agencies,—Report and Accounts for Service Children's Education for 1998-99, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 167] [Mr Secretary Hoon].
17Industrial Organisation and Development,—Accounts, prepared pursuant to section 9(4) of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act 1947, of the sums recovered by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry under Orders made under section 9 of the Act, and of their disposal, for 1998-99, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 205] [Clerk of the House].
18Social Security,—Report by the Government Actuary on the drafts of the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2000 and the Social Security (Contributions) (Re-rating and National Insurance Funds Payments) Order 2000 [by Command] [Cm. 4587] [Mr Secretary Darling].
19Telecommunications,—Licences granted under section 7 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to—
 
        (1) Vine Telecom Networks Limited, and
 
        (2) WTI Telecom (UK) Limited.
 
    [by Act] [Mr Secretary Byers].
Papers withdrawn:
20Overseas Development and Co-operation,—Draft African Development Fund (Eighth Replenishment) Order 1999 [laid on 10th January].
APPENDIX II
Standing Committees
Draft National Assembly of Wales (Transfer of Functions) Order 2000,—The Committee of Selection has discharged Ms Julie Morgan from the Fifth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Order); and nominated in substitution Mr John Smith.
APPENDIX III
Select Committees
1Public Accounts,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee of Public Accounts [The passport delays of Summer 1999]; to be printed [No. 208-i] [Mr David Davis].
2Science and Technology,—(1) Second Report from the Science and Technology Committee [Engineering and Physical Sciences Based Innovation], together with Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee in the last Session of Parliament; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 195-i]; and
 
        (2) Memoranda laid before the Committee [Engineering and Physical Sciences Based Innovation]
 
    [Dr Michael Clark].
Observations by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions on the Petition [8th December] from residents of Angus and others calling for increased rights of access through traffic for the emergency services.
 The Government does not consider there is a general problem for the drivers of emergency vehicles that would justify seeking legal powers over and above those that are already available. A representative of the Traffic Committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers was asked if the police were conscious of any trend and how, in practice, police officers dealt with any instances of obstruction of emergency vehicles. A representative of the Tayside police was also contacted.
 The police confirm that reports of deliberate obstruction are very rare indeed. When they do come across an instance where they can identify the driver, they believe existing powers are adequate to deal with the case. They may consider prosecuting for driving without due consideration, or without care and attention, especially where the standard of driving is very poor and obstruction is a factor.
 However, most motorists drive safely and responsibly and make real efforts to provide space for emergency vehicles - as advised in paragraph 194 of the Highway Code. In cases where emergency vehicles are apparently obstructed, it is generally because drivers simply cannot make room, quickly, and in a manner which does not endanger others; in other cases, well-intentioned drivers can become disorientated, or 'freeze-up', when confronted with a vehicle on an emergency call.
 The Government doubt there is a case to be made for the additional powers suggested, but will keep the matter under consideration. If it were to attempt to take further, specific legal powers, evidence would be required which demonstrated that there was a strong need. At the moment, the Government does not have that.
 10th January 2000



 
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