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Session 2001- 02
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Tuesday 13th November 2001

The House met at half-past Two o'clock.

PRAYERS.

1    Message from the Lords,-A Message was brought from the Lords, as follows:

    The Lords have agreed to the European Communities (Finance) Bill, without Amendment.

2    Opposition Day [5th allotted day],-It being an allotted day at the disposal of the Leader of the Opposition in pursuance of Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business), the House proceeded to consider Opposition business.

    The Secretary of State's Handling of the Decisions relating to Railtrack,-A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House deplores the fact that there are discrepancies between accounts given by the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions to the House of his meetings with the Chairman of Railtrack and his discussions with the Rail Regulator relating to the putting into administration of Railtrack, and their accounts of these discussions; notes the concerns of overseas investors such as those expressed by David Winters, portfolio manager for Franklin Mutual, that 'a bigger risk premium is to be attached to investing in British companies now'; condemns the Secretary of State for failing to inform the House fully; notes that his failure to set the record straight has further undermined his, and the Government's, credibility; and calls on the Secretary of State to resign his post before further damage is inflicted on the Government's reputation, both in the business world and the country at large-(Mrs Theresa May);

    An Amendment was proposed to the Question, in line 2, to leave out from the word 'House' to the end of the Question and add the words 'recognises that many of the problems of the railways stem from the years of underfunding of the industry by the previous Conservative Government and the shambles of their rushed and ideologically driven privatisation of Railtrack; welcomes the decisive action that Ministers have taken in regard to Railtrack which will be welcomed by the travelling public; congratulates the Government for developing contingency plans for the industry as soon as it was told of the company's plight; rejects the policies of the Opposition, who would have offered the company a blank cheque and even now wish to pay over 1 billion to compensate shareholders; and welcomes the work of Ministers in developing positive policies to take the industry forward in terms of a successor to Railtrack and to put the interests of passengers first', instead thereof.-(Mr Secretary Byers.)

    And the Question being put, That the original words stand part of the Question;

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Mrs Cheryl Gillan, Dr Julian Lewis: 152.

      Tellers for the Noes, Mr Ivor Caplin, Mr Ian Pearson: 394.

    So the Question was negatived.

    And the Question, That the proposed words be there added, being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments);

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Ian Pearson, Mr Ivor Caplin: 335.

      Tellers for the Noes, Mrs Cheryl Gillan, Mr John Randall: 193.

    So the Question was agreed to.

    The Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the Main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

    Resolved, That this House recognises that many of the problems of the railways stem from the years of underfunding of the industry by the previous Conservative Government and the shambles of their rushed and ideologically driven privatisation of Railtrack; welcomes the decisive action that Ministers have taken in regard to Railtrack which will be welcomed by the travelling public; congratulates the Government for developing contingency plans for the industry as soon as it was told of the company's plight; rejects the policies of the Opposition, who would have offered the company a blank cheque and even now wish to pay over 1 billion to compensate shareholders; and welcomes the work of Ministers in developing positive policies to take the industry forward in terms of a successor to Railtrack and to put the interests of passengers first.

    The Government's Stakeholder Pension Scheme,-A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House regrets the Government's failure to deliver stakeholder pensions to its target group of 'those with moderate incomes of between 10,000 and 20,000 a year'; condemns the failure to reform the obligation to purchase an annuity at age 75, which is a disincentive to taking out stakeholders and other forms of personal pension; regrets the spread of means-testing which acts as a disincentive to saving; condemns the burdens on company pension schemes which are causing employers to close them to new members; and calls on the Government to review its pension policies so as to reverse the decline in funded pensions-(Mr David Willetts);

    An Amendment was proposed to the Question, in line 2, to leave out from the word 'House' to the end of the Question and add the words 'welcomes the Government's reformed framework for pensions, which ensures that today's pensioners share in the country's rising prosperity and that tomorrow's pensioners are encouraged to save for their retirement, building on the foundation of the basic state pension; believes that pensioner poverty must be tackled through the minimum income guarantee; supports the reform of SERPS to create the State Second Pension which will give more help to low paid earners and people with broken work records, such as carers and disabled people; further supports stakeholder pensions which provide a low cost, flexible option for moderate or higher earners who do not have access to a good occupational scheme; welcomes the Government's plans to ensure that pensioners with modest savings or a small occupational pension are rewarded for their thrift through the new pension credit; and supports the need for an effective system of financial regulation through the FSA and other measures to build public confidence', instead thereof.-(Mr Secretary Darling.)

    And the Question being put, That the original words stand part of the Question;

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Mrs Cheryl Gillan, Dr Julian Lewis: 194.

      Tellers for the Noes, Mr John Heppell, Mr Graham Stringer: 328.

    So the Question was negatived.

    And the Question, That the proposed words be there added, being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments);

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Mr John Heppell, Mr Graham Stringer: 324.

      Tellers for the Noes, Dr Julian Lewis, Mrs Cheryl Gillan: 194.

    So the Question was agreed to.

    The Speaker forthwith declared the Main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

    Resolved, That this House welcomes the Government's reformed framework for pensions, which ensures that today's pensioners share in the country's rising prosperity and that tomorrow's pensioners are encouraged to save for their retirement, building on the foundation of the basic state pension; believes that pensioner poverty must be tackled through the minimum income guarantee; supports the reform of SERPS to create the State Second Pension which will give more help to low paid earners and people with broken work records, such as carers and disabled people; further supports stakeholder pensions which provide a low cost, flexible option for moderate or higher earners who do not have access to a good occupational scheme; welcomes the Government's plans to ensure that pensioners with modest savings or a small occupational pension are rewarded for their thrift through the new pension credit; and supports the need for an effective system of financial regulation through the FSA and other measures to build public confidence.

3    Local Government Finance,-A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the Local Government Finance (England) Special Grant Report (No. 88) (House of Commons Paper No. 305) on Special Grant for Activities Undertaken by Beacon Councils, which was laid before this House on 25th October, be approved-(Mr Tony McNulty):-It was agreed to.

4    Local Government Finance,-A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the Local Government Finance (England) Special Grant Report (No. 81) (House of Commons Paper No. 276) on 2001/02 Special Grant for Gypsy Sites Refurbishment, which was laid before this House on 29th October, be approved-(Mr Tony McNulty);

    And the Speaker's opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Division was deferred till to-morrow, pursuant to Order [28th June].

5    Public Petitions,-Public Petitions from-

    (1) Mrs Jonete S. Coates and others in support of speed-reducing measures on the Tollerton Road in Huby, Yorkshire; and

    (2) readers of the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard newspaper against reductions in the quality of NHS provision at Cirencester Hospital

    were presented and read; and ordered to lie upon the Table and to be printed.

6    Adjournment,-Resolved, That this House do now adjourn.-(Mr Tony McNulty.)

    And accordingly the House, having continued to sit till three minutes past Eleven o'clock, adjourned till to-morrow.

[Adjourned at 11.03 p.m.

Michael J. Martin
Speaker


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


APPENDIX I

Papers presented or laid upon the Table:

Other Papers:

1    Civil Aviation,-Statement of determination on pension for spouses of Civil Aviation Authority Board Members [by Act] [Mr Secretary Byers].

2    Culture, Media and Sport,-Government Response to the Second Report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Session 2000-01, on The Communications White Paper [by Command] [Cm. 5316] [Secretary Tessa Jowell].

3    Parliamentary Commissioner,-Fourth Report of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Session 2001-02, on Access to Official Information: Declarations made under the Ministerial Code of Conduct [by Act]; to be printed [No. 353] [Clerk of the House].

4    Public Petitions,-Observations by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the Petition [23rd October] from Joan Martin, residents of Beaconsfield and others for re-establishment of British sovereignty ceded to the European Commission [by Standing Order]; to be printed [Clerk of the House].

APPENDIX II

Reports from Select Committees

    1    Culture, Media and Sport,-First Report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee [Unpicking the Lock: World Athletics Championships in the UK], together with the Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee: to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 264] [Mr Gerald Kaufman].

    2    Defence Committee,-(1) Minutes of Evidence taken before the Defence Committee [The Threat from Terrorism]; to be printed [No. 341-ii]; and

    (2) Memorandum laid before the Committee [Transfer of War Pensions Agency]

    [Mr Bruce George].

    3    Statutory Instruments,-Ninth Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, together with Memoranda laid before the Committee; to be printed [No. 135-ix] [Mr David Tredinnick]

    4    Trade and Industry,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the Trade and Industry Committee [Energy Policy: Security of Supply]; to be printed [Nos. 364-i and -ii] [Mr Martin O'Neill].

    5    Treasury,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the Treasury Committee [Regulation of Equitable Life]; to be printed [No. 317-ii] [Mr John McFall].

[W.H., No. 23]

Minutes of Proceedings of the Sitting in Westminster Hall

[pursuant to the Order of 20th November 2000]

The sitting commenced at half-past Nine o'clock.

    Adjournment,-Resolved, That the sitting be now adjourned.-(Jim Fitzpatrick.)

    And accordingly the sitting was adjourned till to-morrow.

[Adjourned at 1.56 p.m.

Sir Alan Haselhurst

Deputy Speaker



 
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