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Session 2003 - 04
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Tuesday 13th January 2004

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

PRAYERS.

1    National Insurance Contributions and Statutory Payments Bill,-Mr Win Griffiths reported from Standing Committee D, That it had gone through the National Insurance Contributions and Statutory Payments Bill, and directed him to report the same, without Amendment.

    Bill, not amended in the Standing Committee, to be considered to-morrow.

    Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee to be printed [No. 217].

2    Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation,-Mr Eric Forth reported from the Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation the draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Common Electoral Principles) Order 2004.

    Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee to lie upon the Table.

3    Opposition Day [2nd 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.

    National Audit Office Report on Operation TELIC,-A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House congratulates Her Majesty's Armed Forces on their outstanding contribution to the success of the Coalition campaign in Iraq; welcomes the positive findings of the National Audit Office Report on Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Military Operations in Iraq; endorses the conclusions and recommendations of that Report, but is gravely concerned about its criticisms of major deficiencies in the supply of vital equipment to UK forces in theatre; deplores the fact that approximately 200,000 sets of enhanced combat body armour issued since 1989 seem to have disappeared and that few troops received their full complement of the extra quantities of clothing and boots ordered from late 2002 onwards; is particularly appalled that there was a 40 per cent. shortfall in tactical nerve-agent detection systems, vital to alert personnel that an attack was underway, and that the operational filters needed to protect Challenger 2 tanks from radiological, chemical and biological attack were not delivered to frontline units until months after the fall of Saddam, given that the Government's casus belli was fear that the Iraqi regime possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that might be used at short notice; condemns as totally unacceptable the extreme peril to which these supply failures exposed service men and women, because of the perceived WMD danger; and calls upon the Government urgently to address the deficiencies identified in the Report-(Mr Nicholas Soames);

    An Amendment was proposed to the Question, in line 3, to leave out from the word 'Iraq' to the end of the Question and add the words 'and welcomes the report of the National Audit Office "Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Military Operations in Iraq", which is consistent with the main conclusions of the Ministry of Defence's own report "Operations in Iraq-Lessons for the Future"', instead thereof.-(Mr Secretary Hoon.)

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

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Hugo Swire, Mr Mark Field: 202.

      Tellers for the Noes, Derek Twigg, Paul Clark: 330.

    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):-It was agreed to.

    And the Main Question, as amended, being put;

    Resolved, That this House congratulates Her Majesty's Armed Forces on their outstanding contribution to the success of the Coalition campaign in Iraq and welcomes the report of the National Audit Office 'Operation TELIC-United Kingdom Military Operations in Iraq', which is consistent with the main conclusions of the Ministry of Defence's own report 'Operations in Iraq-Lessons for the Future'.

    Future of the Post Office Network,-A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House deplores the programme to close 3,000 urban post offices because closure decisions are being made without taking adequately into account the needs of post office customers; believes that honourable Members are insufficiently consulted when proposed closures are announced; regrets the lack of time available to provide for a full consultation period and the failure of the consultation process to influence the closure programme; condemns the Government as the sole shareholder of Royal Mail plc's wholly-owned subsidiary, The Post Office Ltd., for its failure to intervene in order to rectify the way in which the Urban Reinvention Programme is being implemented; expresses its great concern about the programme to implement Post Office card accounts, which is failing to reflect the needs of customers, especially for the most vulnerable, including elderly and disabled people; calls on the Government to give a firm indication that an Exceptions Service will be introduced and to provide the House with the details of how such a system will operate after 2005; and further calls on the Government to make a statement on the sustainability of the funding of rural post offices beyond 2006-(Mr Stephen O'Brien);

    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 'congratulates the Government for its commitment to modernise and invest in the national network of post offices while keeping them easily accessible to all customers; notes that the choice of account for customers into which they wish their benefits paid is entirely a matter for the customer concerned and congratulates the Government on ensuring that all the necessary information is available to customers to make an informed choice; applauds the Government's 2 billion investment in the Post Office network and its success in reducing the rate of rural post office closures; notes the Post Office's commitment to ensuring that 95 per cent. of the urban population live within a mile of a post office, and the majority within half a mile, and that honourable Members are consulted on proposed closures as part of an agreed process between the Post Office and Postwatch; further notes that 3,500 post offices closed under the previous administration; and condemns those who seek to undermine confidence in Britain's postal services', instead thereof.-(Mr Stephen Timms.)

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

    David Maclean rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

    And the Question being put, That the Question be now put:-It was agreed to.

    And the Question being accordingly put;

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Angela Watkinson, Mr Mark Field: 205.

      Tellers for the Noes, Bridget Prentice, Charlotte Atkins: 326.

    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, Charlotte Atkins, Bridget Prentice: 322.

      Tellers for the Noes, Angela Watkinson, Mr Mark Field: 203.

    So the Question was agreed to.

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

    Resolved, That this House congratulates the Government for its commitment to modernise and invest in the national network of post offices while keeping them easily accessible to all customers; notes that the choice of account for customers into which they wish their benefits paid is entirely a matter for the customer concerned and congratulates the Government on ensuring that all the necessary information is available to customers to make an informed choice; applauds the Government's 2 billion investment in the Post Office network and its success in reducing the rate of rural post office closures; notes the Post Office's commitment to ensuring that 95 per cent. of the urban population live within a mile of a post office, and the majority within half a mile, and that honourable Members are consulted on proposed closures as part of an agreed process between the Post Office and Postwatch; further notes that 3,500 post offices closed under the previous administration; and condemns those who seek to undermine confidence in Britain's postal services.

4    Public Petitions,-A Public Petition from Bob Harris and others for smaller increases in council tax in Hastings in future years was presented and read; and ordered to lie upon the Table and to be printed.

5    Adjournment,-Resolved, That this House do now adjourn.-(Joan Ryan.)

    And accordingly the House, having continued to sit till one minute to Eight o'clock, adjourned till to-morrow.

[Adjourned at 7.59 p.m.

Michael J. Martin
Speaker


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


APPENDIX I

Papers presented or laid upon the Table:

Papers subject to Negative Resolution:

    1    Sea Fisheries,-Sea Fishing (Restriction on Days at Sea) (No. 2) (Amendment) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 38), dated 12th January 2004 [by Act] [Secretary Margaret Beckett].

Other Papers:

    2    Government Trading Funds,-Treasury Minute, dated 13th January 2004, concerning a further financial objective desirable of achievement by OGCbuying.solutions Trading Fund [by Command] [Mr Paul Boateng].

    3    Public Petitions,-Observations by-

    (1) the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the Petition [27th November] from persons on the electoral roll in the Parliamentary Constituency of Gainsborough for a referendum on the proposed European Constitution; and

    (2) the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the Petitions [10th December] from residents of Powys against the withdrawal of pension books [two petitions]

    [by Standing Order]; to be printed [Clerk of the House].

APPENDIX II

Standing Committees

    Draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Common Electoral Principles) Order 2004,-The Committee of Selection has discharged Ann McKechin and Mr Martin Salter from the Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Order) and nominated in substitution Mr Graham Allen and Mr Kelvin Hopkins.

APPENDIX III

Reports from Select Committees

    1    Constitutional Affairs,-(1) First Special Report from the Constitutional Affairs Committee [Protection of a witness-privilege], together with Appendices; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 210]; and

    (2) Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee [Asylum and Immigration Appeals]; to be printed [No. 211-i]

    [Mr A. J. Beith].

    2    Culture, Media and Sport,-(1) First Special Report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee [Press Complaints Commission's Response to the Committee's Fifth Report, Session 2002-03, on Privacy and Media Intrusion]; to be printed [No. 213]; and

    (2) Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee [National Lottery Reform]; to be printed [No. 196-i]

    [Mr Gerald Kaufman].

    3    Draft Gambling Bill,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the Joint Committee on the Draft Gambling Bill; to be printed [No. 139-iv] [Mr John Greenway].

    4    Environmental Audit,-(1) First Report from the Environmental Audit Committee [Annual Report 2003]; to be printed [No. 215]; and

    (2) Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee [GM Food-Evaluating the Farm Scale Trials]; to be printed [No. 90-iv]

    [Mr Peter Ainsworth].

    5    Home Affairs,-Second Report from the Home Affairs Committee [Asylum Applications], with an Appendix, 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. 218] [Mr John Denham].

    6    International Development,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the International Development Committee [Migration and Development]; to be printed [No. 79-iv] [Tony Baldry].

    7    Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions,-(1) Second Report from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Committee [Annual Report to the Liaison Committee 2003]; to be printed [No. 221]; and

    (2) Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee [Decent Homes]; to be printed [No. 46-iii]

[Mr Andrew Bennett].

    8    Public Administration,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the Select Committee on Public Administration [The Honours System]; to be printed [No. 212-i] [Tony Wright].

    9    Statutory Instruments,-Fourth Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, together with Memoranda laid before the Committee; to be printed [No. 82-iv] [Brian White].

    10    Treasury,-Third Report from the Treasury Committee [2003 Pre-Budget Report], together with Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings relating to the Report [No. 136] [Mr John McFall].


[W.H., No. 9]

Minutes of Proceedings of the Sitting in Westminster Hall

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

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

    And accordingly the sitting was adjourned till to-morrow.

[Adjourned at 4.42 p.m.

Sir Alan Haselhurst
Deputy Speaker


CORRIGENDUM

    In the Votes and Proceedings of Monday 12th January, in Appendix III, Item 1, relating to the Education and Skills Committee, should have had printing number 197-i.



 
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