The House met at half-past Eleven o'clock.
1 Private Bills,-The Order of 13th November relating to the Mersey Tunnels Bill, suspended in the last Session of Parliament, being read;
Mersey Tunnels Bill,-A Bill to amend provisions of the County of Merseyside Act 1980 relating to the levying, revision and application of tolls for use of the Mersey Tunnels and to amend that Act for other purposes, was read the first, second and third times and passed.
2 Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Bill,-Mr Secretary Hoon, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr Secretary Prescott, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Secretary Straw, Mr Secretary Blunkett, Mr Secretary Smith, Mr Adam Ingram and Mr David Lammy, presented a Bill to make new provision for establishing pension and compensation schemes for the armed or reserve forces; to amend the Pensions Appeal Tribunals Act 1943; to provide for the transfer of the property, rights and liabilities of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation to a registered charity; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the first time; and ordered to be read a second time on Monday 8th December and to be printed [Bill 10].
Ordered, That the Explanatory Notes relating to the Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Bill be printed [Bill 10-EN].
3 Queen's Speech (Motion for an Address),-The Order of the day being read, for resuming the adjourned Debate on the Question proposed on 26th November, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament;
And the Question being again proposed:-The House resumed the adjourned Debate.
Another Amendment was proposed to the Question, at the end, to add the words 'But regret that the Gracious Speech contains no measures to provide fundamental reform of public services or to reduce the level of waste in government; condemn the absence of proposals to restore the incentive to save, which has been eroded by the vast growth in means testing; deplore the absence of sufficient measures to avert the pensions crisis; further regret that the Gracious Speech makes no reference to the need to establish a more transparent and coherent fiscal structure; further condemn the absence of measures to fulfil the Government's pledge to improve the competitiveness of the British economy and the rate of productivity growth; note that rail delays have doubled and traffic congestion has increased under this Government, and that there are no measures in the Gracious Speech adequately to address the Government's failure to tackle these problems, which are damaging competitiveness and leading to reduced choice for the travelling public; further condemn the failure of a draft Bill to indicate what the powers of any regional assembly would be, even though proposals for local government reorganisation have been published; and believe that the Government's proposals to restrict the right to buy will frustrate the legitimate aspirations of tenants to own their homes.'.-(Mr Oliver Letwin.)
And the Question being put, That the Amendment be made;
Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Mark Francois, Mr Hugo Swire: 171.
Tellers for the Noes, Mr John Heppell, Margaret Moran: 286.
So the Question was negatived.
Another Amendment was proposed to the Question, at the end, to add the words 'But humbly regret that the Gracious Speech distracts from sound policies which deal with crime and its causes; further regret the intention to introduce top-up fees for universities; further regret the lack of provision for free personal care for the elderly and disabled people and the failure to tackle the pension crisis; further regret the decision to proceed with an ill-thought through and expensive identity cards scheme; further regret that the Government has chosen to undermine further the rights of people fleeing persecution to seek asylum in this country; note that the Government has failed to put environment at the heart of its legislative agenda and address the crisis in the transport system; regret the failure to introduce single transferable vote as the voting system for the Scottish Parliament; and further regret the absence of measures to tackle the steep inequalities which continue to afflict the most disadvantaged members of society.'.-(Mr Andrew Stunell.)
And the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Calling of amendments at end of debate), That the Amendment be made;
Tellers for the Ayes, Richard Younger-Ross, Mr Alan Reid: 44.
Tellers for the Noes, Mr John Heppell, Margaret Moran: 277.
So the Question was negatived.
And the Main Question being put;
Tellers for the Ayes, Mr John Heppell, Margaret Moran: 275.
Tellers for the Noes, Mr Peter Atkinson, Gregory Barker: 174.
So the Question was agreed to.
Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
Address to be presented to Her Majesty by such Members of this House as are of Her Majesty's most honourable Privy Council or of Her Majesty's Household.
4 Adjournment (Christmas),-A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 25 (Periodic adjournments), That this House, at its rising on Thursday 18th December, do adjourn till Monday 5th January 2004-(Paul Clark):-It was agreed to.
5 Adjournment,-Resolved, That this House do now adjourn.-(Paul Clark.)
And accordingly the House, having continued to sit till five minutes past Seven o'clock, adjourned till Monday 8th December.
[Adjourned at 7.05 p.m.
Michael J. Martin
Mr Speaker will take the Chair at half-past Two o'clock on Monday next.
Papers presented or laid upon the Table:
Papers subject to Negative Resolution:
1 Council Tax,-Council Tax and Non-Domestic Rating (Demand Notices) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I., 2003, No. 3081), dated 27th November 2003 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
2 Education,-Local Education Authority (Behaviour Support Plans) (Exception) (England) Regulations 2003 (S.I., 2003, No. 3082), dated 27th November 2003 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Clarke].
3 National Health Service,-(1) NHS Professionals Special Health Authority (Establishment and Constitution) Order 2003 (S.I., 2003, No. 3059), and
(2) NHS Professionals Special Health Authority Regulations 2003 (S.I., 2003, No. 3060)
dated 26th November 2003 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Reid].
4 Statistics of Trade,-Statistics of Trade (Customs and Excise) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I., 2003, No. 3131), dated 3rd December 2003 [by Act] [Ruth Kelly].
5 Universities of Oxford and Cambridge,-(1) Statute, dated 30th May 2003, made by the Governing Body of Trinity College, Cambridge, amending the Statutes of the College, and
(2) Statute, dated 22nd May 2003, by the Governing Body of the University of Cambridge amending the Statutes of the University
[by Act] [Mr David Lammy].
6 Cabinet Office,-Cabinet Office: Autumn Performance Report 2003 [by Command] [Cm. 6055] [Mr Douglas Alexander].
7 Government Resources and Accounts,-Report and Accounts of the Defence Procurement Agency for 2002-03, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 2] [Mr Secretary Hoon].
8 Police,-Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary for 2002-03 [by Act]; to be printed [No. 34] [Mr Secretary Blunkett].
Standing Committee on Regional Affairs
1 Standing Committee on Regional Affairs:
(1) The Speaker has appointed Mr Alan Hurst Chairman of the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs in respect of its meeting on 11th December; and
(2) The Committee of Selection has discharged Mr Ian Pearson from the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs and nominated in substitution Derek Wyatt.
European Standing Committees
2 The Speaker has appointed Mr David Chidgey Chairman of European Standing Committee B in respect of European Union Document No. 10965/03 on Security at European Council Meetings and other Comparable Events.
Reports from Select Committees
1 European Scrutiny,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the European Scrutiny Committee [Fisheries and other aspects of the EU's draft constitutional treaty]; to be printed [No. 91-i] [Mr Jimmy Hood].
2 Health,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the Health Committee [Obesity]; to be printed [No. 23-ii] [Mr David Hinchliffe].
3 International Development,-(1) First Report from the International Development Committee [Trade and Development at the WTO: Learning the lessons of Cancún to revive a genuine development round], together with 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. 92-I and -II]; and
(2) Memoranda laid before the Committee [Migration and Development]; to be printed [No. 79-ii]
Public Bills (Scotland),-In pursuance of paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 97 (Scottish Grand Committee (bills in relation to their principle)) the Speaker certified that, in his opinion, the provisions of the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Bill relate exclusively to Scotland.
In the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday 3rd December, in Appendix III, Item 3, relating to the Environmental Audit Committee, should have had printing number 90-i.