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House of Commons
Session 2003 - 04
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Monday 5th July 2004

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

PRAYERS.

1    First Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation,-Mr Kevin Hughes reported from the First Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation the draft Landfill (Scheme Year and Maximum Landfill Amount) Regulations 2004.

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

2    Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation,-Mr Peter Pike reported from the Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation the draft Dangerous Wild Animals (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.

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

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

    The Lords agree to the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, without Amendment.

    Civil Partnership Bill [Lords],-The Lords have passed a Bill to make provision for and in connection with civil partnership, to which the Lords desire the concurrence of this House.

    University of Wales, Cardiff Bill [Lords],-The Lords have passed a Bill to dissolve the University of Wales College of Medicine; to transfer all rights, properties and liabilities of the said College to the University of Wales, Cardiff; to make provision as to the funds held by or on behalf of the University of Wales, Cardiff; and for connected and other purposes, to which the Lords desire the concurrence of this House.

4    Civil Partnership Bill [Lords],-The Civil Partnership Bill [Lords] was read the first time; and ordered to be read a second time to-morrow and to be printed [Bill 132].

    Ordered, That the Explanatory Notes relating to the Civil Partnership Bill [Lords] be printed [Bill 132-EN].

5    University of Wales, Cardiff Bill [Lords],-The University of Wales, Cardiff Bill [Lords] was read the first time.

    Bill referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.

6    Foundation for Unclaimed Assets Bill,-Mr Frank Field, supported by Mr Jon Owen Jones, Derek Wyatt, Kevin Brennan, Mr David Willetts, Mr Nigel Waterson, Steve Webb, Annabelle Ewing, Sandra Osborne, The Reverend Martin Smyth, Mr Jeffrey M. Donaldson and Adam Price, presented a Bill to establish the Foundation for Unclaimed Assets and make provision as to its functions: And the same was read the first time; and ordered to be read a second time on Friday 15th October and to be printed [Bill 131].

7    Opposition Day [15th 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.

    Postal Services,-A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House notes the failure of Royal Mail plc to deliver first and second class mail reliably and on time and regrets the damage this is doing to businesses and private customers alike; notes with particular dismay the threatened closure in Leicester of the Knighton Church Road Post Office, Knighton, and the East Park Road Post Office, Spinney Hills; calls on the Government to end the uncertainty facing the future of rural post offices as a result of the Government's refusal to announce further funding until after 2006; deplores the inadequate consultation procedure of the Urban Reinvention Programme despite the Government's recent announcement to review urgently the arrangements for the consultation currently employed; expresses continued concern about the Government's implementation of the different Direct Payment options which has caused significant problems particularly for elderly and disabled customers in Stechford, Shard End and Hodge Hill in Birmingham; condemns the Government for its failure adequately to promote the take-up of Post Office Card Accounts; and further calls on the Government to provide more details on the implementation of the Exceptions Service-(Michael Fabricant);

    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 'supports the Government's strategy for a viable Post Office network; welcomes the delivery by Royal Mail of 93 per cent. of first class letters the next day in the first half of 2003-04; shares the Government's disappointment over the drop in performance since then, which rightly falls short of customers' expectations; calls on Royal Mail and the unions to work together to improve the quality of service; notes that the closure of any post office is regrettable but supports the Government's view that, without rationalisation, unplanned closures would continue, leaving damaging gaps in the network; supports the Government's commitment to ensure that at least 95 per cent. of the urban population will live within one mile of their nearest post office; supports the Government's commitment to ensure funding of rural post offices until at least 2006; welcomes the changes to the urban reinvention consultation process and the extension of the consultation process from four to six weeks; supports the Government's move to Direct Payment and welcomes the fact that already more than half of customers are getting their benefits, pensions and tax credits paid straight into accounts, of which 3.2 million are Post Office card accounts; notes that the Opposition wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on the Benefit Payment Card scheme; supports the facility for those who cannot be paid through an account, particularly the most vulnerable older people, to receive a cheque payment; and recognises that change was needed and congratulates the Government for its strong, decisive action', instead thereof.-(Mr Stephen Timms.)

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

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Mark Francois, Hugh Robertson: 163.

      Tellers for the Noes, Gillian Merron, Mr Vernon Coaker: 253.

    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.

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

    Resolved, That this House supports the Government's strategy for a viable Post Office network; welcomes the delivery by Royal Mail of 93 per cent. of first class letters the next day in the first half of 2003-04; shares the Government's disappointment over the drop in performance since then, which rightly falls short of customers' expectations; calls on Royal Mail and the unions to work together to improve the quality of service; notes that the closure of any post office is regrettable but supports the Government's view that, without rationalisation, unplanned closures would continue, leaving damaging gaps in the network; supports the Government's commitment to ensure that at least 95 per cent. of the urban population will live within one mile of their nearest post office; supports the Government's commitment to ensure funding of rural post offices until at least 2006; welcomes the changes to the urban reinvention consultation process and the extension of the consultation process from four to six weeks; supports the Government's move to Direct Payment and welcomes the fact that already more than half of customers are getting their benefits, pensions and tax credits paid straight into accounts, of which 3.2 million are Post Office card accounts; notes that the Opposition wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on the Benefit Payment Card scheme; supports the facility for those who cannot be paid through an account, particularly the most vulnerable older people, to receive a cheque payment; and recognises that change was needed and congratulates the Government for its strong, decisive action.

    Personal Indebtedness and Savings,-A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House notes that household indebtedness has now reached 1 trillion; is concerned that the household savings rate has halved since 1997; and believes that the Government, through the extension of dependency on means-tested benefits in retirement, its attack on the tax advantages of savings vehicles, and its 5 billion a year raid on pension funds, has diminished incentives to save-(Mr Oliver Letwin);

    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 'believes that a strong and stable economy is the foundation of families' confidence in their own finances; notes that economic stability has delivered low and stable inflation, interest rates have been at their lowest since the 1950s, employment is at a record high and unemployment at its lowest since the 1970s; further notes that as a result households are better able to judge their long-term commitments as macroeconomic stability has reduced the risks to household finances of sudden and sharp rises in interest rates as seen in the past; believes that the Government has tackled the scandals it inherited and created a world leading system of financial regulation allowing people to save with confidence, simplified savings markets allowing people to make informed choices about what and how to save and taken action to tackle financial exclusion; recognises that most household debt remains affordable and that total interest payments are now 7.6 per cent. of disposal income compared with 15 per cent. in 1990; believes the biggest risk to household finances and consumer confidence would be a return to economic instability; and rejects the short-term boom and bust economic policies of the past that saw interest rates hit 15 per cent. and inflation hit 10 per cent. in which circumstances households had to save more to make up for the loss of value of their savings due to inflation and prepare in the event of becoming unemployed', instead thereof.-(Mr Paul Boateng.)

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

    Mr Peter Luff 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, Hugh Robertson, Mr Mark Francois: 165.

      Tellers for the Noes, Joan Ryan, Margaret Moran: 269.

    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, Joan Ryan, Margaret Moran: 264.

      Tellers for the Noes, Hugh Robertson, Mr Mark Francois: 162.

    So the Question was agreed to.

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

    Resolved, That this House believes that a strong and stable economy is the foundation of families' confidence in their own finances; notes that economic stability has delivered low and stable inflation, interest rates have been at their lowest since the 1950s, employment is at a record high and unemployment at its lowest since the 1970s; further notes that as a result households are better able to judge their long-term commitments as macroeconomic stability has reduced the risks to household finances of sudden and sharp rises in interest rates as seen in the past; believes that the Government has tackled the scandals it inherited and created a world leading system of financial regulation allowing people to save with confidence, simplified savings markets allowing people to make informed choices about what and how to save and taken action to tackle financial exclusion; recognises that most household debt remains affordable and that total interest payments are now 7.6 per cent. of disposal income compared with 15 per cent. in 1990; believes the biggest risk to household finances and consumer confidence would be a return to economic instability; and rejects the short-term boom and bust economic policies of the past that saw interest rates hit 15 per cent. and inflation hit 10 per cent. in which circumstances households had to save more to make up for the loss of value of their savings due to inflation and prepare in the event of becoming unemployed.

8    Landlord and Tenant,-A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the draft Rights of Re-entry and Forfeiture (Prescribed Sum and Period) (England) Regulations 2004, which were laid before this House on 7th June, be approved-(Mr Nick Ainger):-It was agreed to.

9    Civil Aviation,-A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the draft Stansted Airport Aircraft Movement Limit (Revocation) Order 2004, which was laid before this House on 8th June, be approved-(Mr Nick Ainger);

    And the Deputy Speaker's opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Division was deferred till Wednesday 7th July, pursuant to Orders [28th June 2001 and 6th November 2003 (Deferred divisions)].

10    Criminal Law,-A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the draft Discharge of Fines by Unpaid Work (Prescribed Hourly Sum) Regulations 2004, which were laid before this House on 10th June, be approved-(Mr Nick Ainger):-It was agreed to.

11    Preliminary Draft Budget 2005,-A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119 (European Standing Committees), That this House takes note of the unnumbered Explanatory Memorandum from HM Treasury dated 11th May 2004 relating to the Preliminary Draft General Budget of the European Communities for the financial year 2005; and supports the Government's efforts to maintain budget discipline in the Community-(Mr Nick Ainger):-It was agreed to.

12    Public Petitions,-Public Petitions from-(1) residents of Wilmslow, Cheshire, and the surrounding area against plans by Tesco to close the Finney Green Post Office; and

    (2) the congregation of St Edward's Roman Catholic Church in Romford, Essex, against the threatened closure of Romford's post offices

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

13    Adjournment,-A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House do now adjourn-(Mr Nick Ainger);

    And the Motion having been made after Ten o'clock, and the Debate having continued for half an hour, the Deputy Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order, it being then two minutes past Eleven o'clock, till to-morrow.

[Adjourned at 11.02 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 delivered to the Votes and Proceedings Office on Friday 2nd July 2004 pursuant to Standing Order No. 158 (Presentation of command papers):

    1    Treaty Series (No. 25, 2004),-Protocol, adopted at Kingston on 27th March 1998, on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Seabed Authority [Cm. 6260] [Mr Secretary Straw].

Papers delivered to the Votes and Proceedings Office on Friday 2nd July 2004 pursuant to Standing Order No. 159 (Presentation of statutory instruments):

Papers subject to Negative Resolution:

    2    Environmental Protection,-Passenger Car (Fuel Consumption and CO2 Emissions Information) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 1661), dated 29th June 2004, with an Explanatory Memorandum [Mr Secretary Darling].

Papers presented or laid upon the Table on Monday 5th July 2004:

Papers subject to Affirmative Resolution:

    3    Family Law,-Draft Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Smith].

Papers subject to Negative Resolution:

    4    Food,-Charges for Inspections and Controls (Amendment) Regulations 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 1697), dated 5th July 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Secretary Margaret Beckett].

    5    Plant Health,-The Plant Health (Export Certification) (Forestry) (Great Britain) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 1684), dated 30th June 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Secretary Margaret Beckett].

    6    Social Security,-Back to Work Bonus (Amendment) Regulations 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 1655), dated 28th June 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Smith].

    7    Terms and Conditions of Employment,-Redundancy Payments (Continuity of Employment in Local Government, etc.) (Modification) (Amendment) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No.1682), dated 30th June 2004 [by Act] [Ms Secretary Hewitt].

Other Papers:

    8     Courts and Legal Services,-Report and Financial Statement of the Legal Services Ombudsman for 2003-04, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 729] [Mr David Lammy].

    9    Government Resources and Accounts,-Report and Resource Accounts of the Office of Fair Trading for 2003-04, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 739] [Ruth Kelly].

    10    Government Trading Funds,-Report and Accounts of HM Land Registry for 2003-04, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 753] [Clerk of the House].

    11    Home Office,-Home Office Departmental Minute concerning a contingent liability for the provision of an indemnity in respect of new detection technology (NDT), the structures housing it, and to the operators of NDT [by Command] [Mr Secretary Blunkett].

    12    Housing,-Reports and Accounts of Tower Hamlets Housing Action Trust for 2003-04 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].

    13    New Roads and Street Works,-Annual Report to Parliament for 2003 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Darling].

    14    Public Petitions,-Observations by the Secretary of State for Transport on the Petition [16th June] from residents of Faversham, Kent, and supporters of Kingsfield Traffic Action Group for traffic calming measures and a 20 mph speed limit in parts of Kingsfield, Faversham [by Standing Order]; to be printed [Clerk of the House].

    15    Public Works Loans,-Report of the Public Works Loan Board for 2003-04 [by Act] [Ruth Kelly].

    16    Standards and Privileges,-Report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for 2003-04 [by Standing Order]; to be printed [No. 716] [Clerk of the House].

APPENDIX II

Standing Committees

    1    Draft Dangerous Wild Animals (Northern Ireland) Order 2004,-The Committee of Selection has discharged Colin Burgon from the Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Order) and nominated in substitution Mr Anthony D. Wright.

    2    Draft Social Security (Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance) Amendment Regulations 2004,-The Committee of Selection has discharged Mr George Foulkes from the Fourth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Regulations) and nominated in substitution Mr Peter Kilfoyle.

    3    Draft Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Designation of Public Authorities) Order 2004,-The Committee of Selection has discharged Ann Winterton from the Ninth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Order) and nominated in substitution Mr Peter Lilley.

    4    Draft Contracting Out (Functions relating to Broadcast Advertising) and Specification of Relevant Functions Order 2004:

    (1) The Speaker has appointed Sir Nicholas Winterton Chairman of the Twelfth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation in respect of the draft Order in place of Mr Peter Pike; and

    (2) The Committee of Selection has discharged Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown from the Twelfth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Order) and nominated in substitution Mr John Randall.

APPENDIX III

Reports from Select Committees

    1    International Development,-(1) Fourth Special Report from the International Development Committee [Government Response to the Committee's Fourth Report, on Kenya: DFID's Country Assistance Plan 2004-07 and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals]; to be printed [No. 857]; and

    (2) Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee [DFID's bilateral programme of assistance to India]; to be printed [No. 692-ii]

    [Tony Baldry].

    2    Science and Technology,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the Science and Technology Committee [Beagle 2]; to be printed [No. 711-i] [Dr Ian Gibson].

    3    Transport,-Fifteenth Report from the Transport Committee [Financial Protection for Air Travellers]; to be printed, together with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 806-I] [Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody].


CORRIGENDUM

    The following item should have appeared in the Votes and Proceedings Thursday for 1st July, in Appendix I, under the heading Other Papers:

    Ombudsman (Northern Ireland),-Annual Report of the Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints for 2003-04 [by Statutory Instrument]; to be printed [No. 659] [Mr Secretary Murphy].



 
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