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Session 2003 - 04
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Tuesday 14th September 2004

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

PRAYERS.

1    Regulatory Reform,—Mr Peter Pike reported from the Regulatory Reform Committee the following Resolution:

    That the proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971) (Directory Entries and Demands for Payment) Order 2004, which was laid before the House on 26th May, should be amended before an Order is laid before the House.

2    Fourth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation,—Mr Win Griffiths reported from the Fourth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation the draft Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (Amendment) and Police Reform Act 2002 (Modification) 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:

    Employment Relations Bill,—The Lords request that this House may be pleased to return the Employment Relations Bill, because Lords Amendment No. 11 is incorrect.

    The Lords have agreed to the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Bill, with Amendments; to which the Lords desire the concurrence of this House.

4    Employment Relations Bill,—Ordered, That the Lords Message this day relating to the Employment Relations Bill be now considered.

    The House accordingly proceeded to consider the Lords Message.

    Ordered, That the Bill be returned to the Lords, as desired by their Lordships.

5    Message from the Lords,—A Message was brought from the Lords, as follows:

    Employment Relations Bill,—The Lords return the Employment Relations Bill corrected.

6    Employment Relations Bill,—Ordered, That the Lords Amendments to the Employment Relations Bill be printed [Bill 153].

7    Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Bill,—Lords Amendments to the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Bill to be considered to-morrow; and to be printed [Bill 154].

8    Representation of the People (Ballot Papers),—Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision about the order of names on ballot papers used in elections where more than one candidate is to be elected; and for connected purposes: And that Ms Meg Munn, Mr Andrew Mackay, Mr Andy Reed, Jonathan Shaw, Mr Barry Sheerman, Dr Alan Whitehead, Brian White and Mr Phil Willis do prepare and bring it in.

9    Representation of the People (Ballot Papers) Bill,—Ms Meg Munn accordingly presented a Bill to make provision about the order of names on ballot papers used in elections where more than one candidate is to be elected; and for connected purposes: 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 152].

10    Opposition Day [17th allotted day],—It being an allotted day at the disposal of the leader of the second largest opposition party in pursuance of Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business), the House proceeded to consider Opposition business.

    Fair Access to Higher Education,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House notes with regret the emerging consequences of the passage of the Higher Education Act 2004; believes that fees and expanding student debt create significant disincentives for those considering university entry, particularly from less well-off backgrounds; congratulates the efforts of those in the House of Lords who achieved significant concessions during the passage of the Higher Education Bill, particularly for part-time students; regrets that Her Majesty's Official Opposition has completely ignored the needs of part-time students in its new policy; notes that Conservative proposals ask students to pay for the abolition of tuition fees through higher interest payments on their loans, leaving them no better off; further notes the conclusion of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and others that Conservative proposals penalise the poor in order to subsidise the rich; notes the recent Times Higher Education Supplement/Opinion Panel Research opinion poll of students which finds that 47 per cent. support the Liberal Democrats, 20 per cent. support Labour and 23 per cent. are backing the Conservatives; and therefore calls for the immediate abolition of all tuition fees, the re-introduction of maintenance grants of up to 2,000 for students from low-income homes, and the development of a higher education system which brings together universities, further education and e-learning, opens up routes to vocational and technical as well as academic qualifications, and makes it easier for those who wish to study part-time—(Mr Phil Willis);

    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 passage of the Higher Education Act 2004; approves the further steps the Government is taking to widen participation, including the establishment of the Office for Fair Access, and enhanced bursaries; welcomes the improvement in support for part-time students being introduced by the Government, including the first ever grant package available from this autumn; rejects the Liberal Democrat policy of abolition of tuition fees, depriving universities of a dedicated income stream; congratulates the Government on maintaining fair and affordable loan repayment terms and rejects the policies proposed by the Official Opposition which would require those graduates who can least afford it to pay the most for their higher education; recognises the need to maintain UK universities at the forefront of world research and to equip the UK workforce with the high-level skills needed to compete in the global marketplace; congratulates the Government on record levels of investment in higher education, to almost 10 billion by 2005-06, with a 9 per cent. increase in research funding to 2007-08, additional income from variable fees, and further increases in Government funding to be announced shortly; looks forward to the introduction of a 2,700 maintenance grant for new students from 2006 alongside the improved student support package available from fee deferral, increased maintenance loans and loan write-offs for new students after 25 years; and welcomes the impact these policies will have on encouraging students from less well-off backgrounds to consider entering higher education', instead thereof.—(Dr Kim Howells.)

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

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Richard Younger-Ross, Sir Robert Smith: 55.

      Tellers for the Noes, Bridget Prentice, Derek Twigg: 386.

    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, Bridget Prentice, Derek Twigg: 257.

      Tellers for the Noes, Mr Peter Atkinson, Gregory Barker: 185.

    So the Question was agreed to.

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

    Resolved, That this House welcomes the passage of the Higher Education Act 2004; approves the further steps the Government is taking to widen participation, including the establishment of the Office for Fair Access, and enhanced bursaries; welcomes the improvement in support for part-time students being introduced by the Government, including the first ever grant package available from this autumn; rejects the Liberal Democrat policy of abolition of tuition fees, depriving universities of a dedicated income stream; congratulates the Government on maintaining fair and affordable loan repayment terms and rejects the policies proposed by the Official Opposition which would require those graduates who can least afford it to pay the most for their higher education; recognises the need to maintain UK universities at the forefront of world research and to equip the UK workforce with the high-level skills needed to compete in the global marketplace; congratulates the Government on record levels of investment in higher education, to almost 10 billion by 2005-06, with a 9 per cent. increase in research funding to 2007-08, additional income from variable fees, and further increases in Government funding to be announced shortly; looks forward to the introduction of a 2,700 maintenance grant for new students from 2006 alongside the improved student support package available from fee deferral, increased maintenance loans and loan write-offs for new students after 25 years; and welcomes the impact these policies will have on encouraging students from less well-off backgrounds to consider entering higher education.

    Impact of Government Policy on Older Women,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House notes that women have historically always been the poorest pensioners and believes that they will continue to be so unless urgent action is taken; further notes that the average basic state pension entitlement of a newly retired woman is barely 50 per week; recognises that women's state pension rights are frequently damaged by periods of caring for children or people with disabilities and by periods of low paid employment; further notes that the improved rights for carers under the state second pension do not apply to women with children over the age of five, do not apply to carers not in receipt of carers benefits, will take decades to be fully implemented, and will still produce a pension that leaves most recipients needing a means-tested supplement during their retirement; condemns the policy of the Government to force pensioners to surrender their pension books, a policy which affects women in particular; expresses concern that age discrimination within the NHS means that many older women are not invited for routine breast cancer screening; expresses further concern that the Government has failed to abolish mixed-sex wards in all hospital trusts, a practice which many older patients find particularly distressing; and calls on the Government to introduce a decent state pension, based on a citizenship requirement, provide real choices for older people, take steps to tackle age discrimination, and put an end to mixed-sex wards—(Steve Webb);

    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 Pensions Green Paper as the first ever statement of government policy to explicitly consider the needs of women; further welcomes the commitment by the Government to report next year on the pensions position of women; supports steps to improve the incomes of women pensioners and enable more women than ever to build up pensions; welcomes in particular the introduction of Pension Credit, benefiting over two million women, and the state second pension, helping millions of the lowest paid women and women with caring responsibilities to build up a second pension; believes that both main Opposition parties' policies are unaffordable, unworkable and do nothing for the very poorest; notes that the Liberal Democrat policies will be financed by scrapping DTI programmes, which boost the wealth of the nation through investment in research and innovation; supports the conclusion of the Pensions Policy Institute that "the average woman will lose" under proposed Conservative policy; notes that 99 per cent. of NHS trusts provide single-sex sleeping accommodation for planned admissions; and, as there are 10,000 wards in use across the NHS, congratulates the Government on this achievement; applauds the extension of breast screening to women aged 65 to 70, resulting in an additional 200,000 women being invited since April 2001; commends the Government's historic commitment to tackling pensioner poverty, which is continuing to do most for the poorest women pensioners; and welcomes the 10 billion extra that the Government is spending on pensioners this year compared with the 1997 system', instead thereof.—(Malcolm Wicks.)

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

    Mr Andrew Stunell 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, Sir Robert Smith, Richard Younger-Ross: 182.

      Tellers for the Noes, Gillian Merron, Paul Clark: 250.

    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, Paul Clark, Gillian Merron: 248.

      Tellers for the Noes, Richard Younger-Ross, Sir Robert Smith: 175.

    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 Pensions Green Paper as the first ever statement of government policy to explicitly consider the needs of women; further welcomes the commitment by the Government to report next year on the pensions position of women; supports steps to improve the incomes of women pensioners and enable more women than ever to build up pensions; welcomes in particular the introduction of Pension Credit, benefiting over two million women, and the state second pension, helping millions of the lowest paid women and women with caring responsibilities to build up a second pension; believes that both main Opposition parties' policies are unaffordable, unworkable and do nothing for the very poorest; notes that the Liberal Democrat policies will be financed by scrapping DTI programmes, which boost the wealth of the nation through investment in research and innovation; supports the conclusion of the Pensions Policy Institute that 'the average woman will lose' under proposed Conservative policy; notes that 99 per cent. of NHS trusts provide single-sex sleeping accommodation for planned admissions; and, as there are 10,000 wards in use across the NHS, congratulates the Government on this achievement; applauds the extension of breast screening to women aged 65 to 70, resulting in an additional 200,000 women being invited since April 2001; commends the Government's historic commitment to tackling pensioner poverty, which is continuing to do most for the poorest women pensioners; and welcomes the 10 billion extra that the Government is spending on pensioners this year compared with the 1997 system.

11    Family 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 Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2004, which were laid before this House on 5th July, be approved—(Mr Tom Watson):—It was agreed to.

12    Northern Ireland,—A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the draft Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Modification) (No. 2) Order 2004, which was laid before this House on 8th July, be approved—(Mr Tom Watson):—It was agreed to.

13    Local Government,—A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the draft Business Improvement Districts (England) Regulations 2004, which were laid before this House on 7th September, be approved—(Mr Tom Watson):—It was agreed to.

14    Education,—A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the draft Student Fees (Approved Plans) (England) Regulations 2004, which were laid before this House on 7th September, be approved—(Mr Tom Watson):—It was agreed to.

15    Driving Licences,—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 European Union Document No. 15820/03, draft Directive on driving licences (Recasting); and endorses the Government's objective to combat driving licence fraud and improve road safety without imposing undue burdens on industry, private individuals or law enforcers—(Mr Tom Watson):—It was agreed to.

16    Public Petitions,—Public Petitions from—

    (1) people of the Romford Parliamentary Constituency against the building of a Crossrail depot within Romford, and

    (2) constituents of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale and of Roxburgh and Berwickshire and others against disbandment or amalgamation of the King's Own Scottish Borderers or other Scottish regiments

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

17    Adjournment,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House do now adjourn—(Mr Tom Watson);

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

[Adjourned at 8 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 Affirmative Resolution:

1    Constitutional Law,—Draft Primary Medical Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Reid].

Papers subject to Negative Resolution:

2    Protection of Wrecks,—Protection of Wrecks (Designation) (England) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2395), dated 12th September 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Secretary Tessa Jowell].

3    Road Traffic,—Road Traffic (Permitted Parking Area and Special Parking Area) (County of Worcestershire) (District of Wychavon) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2263), dated 31st August 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Darling].

Other Papers:

4    European Parliament (Pay and Pensions),—Fifth Quinquennial Report of the Managers of the European Parliament (United Kingdom Representatives) Pension Scheme and the European Parliament (United Kingdom Representatives) Pension (Additional Voluntary Contributions) Scheme [by Act] [Mr Peter Hain].

5    Government Resources and Accounts,—Report and Accounts of the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency for 2003-04, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 1005] [Mr Secretary Hoon].

6    Public Lending Right,—Report and Account on the Public Lending Right for 2003-04, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 1013] [Secretary Tessa Jowell].

7    Public Petitions,—Observations by—

    (1) Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Petition [20th July] from residents of Dumfries and Galloway against further increases in petrol duty, and

    (2) the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the Petition [16th July] from the Cod Crusaders Community Campaign for the return of British sovereign waters to national control of fishing

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

APPENDIX II

Standing Committees

1    Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Bill [Lords],—The Committee of Selection has discharged Mr Martin Salter from Standing Committee A (nominated in respect of the Bill); and nominated in substitution Mr Wayne David.

2    Draft Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (Amendment) and Police Reform Act 2002 (Modification) Order 2004,—The Committee of Selection has discharged Mr Tony Clarke and Ms Dari Taylor from the Fourth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Order) and nominated in substitution Mr Lindsay Hoyle and Shona McIsaac.

APPENDIX III

Reports from Select Committees

1    Constitutional Affairs,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Constitutional Affairs Committee [Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act]; to be printed [No. 1060-i] [Mr A. J. Beith].

2    Culture, Media and Sport,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee [BBC Charter Renewal]; to be printed [No. 598-vii] [Sir Gerald Kaufman].

3    Education and Skills,—Fifth Report from the Education and Skills Committee [Secondary Education: Teacher Retention and Recruitment], 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. 1057-I and -II] [Mr Barry Sheerman].

4    Foreign Affairs,—Eighth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee [Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report 2003-04], together with Annexes and the Minutes of Evidence; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 745] [Donald Anderson].

5    Home Affairs,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Home Affairs Committee [Police Reform]; to be printed [No. 1038-ii] [Mr John Denham].

6    International Development,—Part of the Minutes of Evidence taken before the International Development Committee [The humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan]; to be printed [No. 1058-i] [Tony Baldry].

7    Northern Ireland,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee ['Hate Crime' in Northern Ireland]; to be printed [No. 539-vi] [Mr Michael Mates].

8    Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Committee [The Draft Regional Assemblies Bill]; to be printed [No. 972-iii] [Andrew Bennett].

9    Regulatory Reform,—Twelfth Report from the Regulatory Reform Committee [Proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971) (Directory Entries and Demands for Payment) Order 2004], together with Appendices; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 1056] [Mr Peter Pike].

10    Standards and Privileges,—Sixth Report from the Committee on Standards and Privileges [Privilege: Protection of a Witness (Government Response)], together with an Appendix; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 1055] [Sir George Young].

11    Statutory Instruments,—Twenty-eighth Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, together with Memoranda laid before the Committee; to be printed [No. 82-xxviii] [Mr David Tredinnick].

12    Treasury,—(1) Seventh Special Report from the Treasury Committee [Government Response to the Seventh Report from the Committee, on The Administrative Costs of Tax Compliance]; to be printed [No. 1054]; and

    (2) Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee [Regional Productivity]; to be printed [No. 308-iv]

    [Mr John McFall].

[W.H., No. 83]

Minutes of Proceedings of the Sitting in Westminster Hall

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

Adjournment,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That the sitting be now adjourned—(Mr Vernon Coaker);

    At Eleven o'clock, a minute's silence was observed in memory of those killed in Beslan, Russia, on 3rd September.

    And the sitting having continued for two and a half hours after Two o'clock, it was adjourned without Question put, till to-morrow.

[Adjourned at 4.57 p.m.

Sir Alan Haselhurst

Deputy Speaker



 
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