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Session 2003 - 04
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Monday 25th October 2004

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

PRAYERS.

1    Opposition Day [20th 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.

    University Admissions Policy,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House believes that universities should be solely and wholly in charge of their own admissions policies, without regard to any externally imposed quotas, targets or benchmarks; affirms that access to higher education should be determined on the basis of academic merit, not social, economic or geographical background; welcomes and supports the efforts of universities to seek out, find and encourage talent in all parts of society, endeavours which long pre-date Government intervention and which are threatened, not encouraged, by it; recognises that attempts to force universities to use politically-determined criteria threaten academic excellence and independence alike; notes that the Government's policies on these issues have sparked deep-seated anger and resentment among universities, whose leaders have in consequence warned Ministers not to interfere with university admissions policy and even openly contemplated self-privatisation as a means of escape; regrets the appointment of a University Access Regulator who has declared himself to be of the view that the principal issue facing higher education is class; and urges the immediate abolition of the Office of Fair Access and the removal of state interference from issues which lie at the heart of university independence, freedom and standards—(Mr Tim Collins);

    An Amendment was proposed to the Question, in line 3, to leave out from the word 'policies' to the end of the Question and add the words 'a point which was repeatedly made clear during the passage of the Higher Education Act 2004 and is now enshrined in that legislation; notes that the Opposition opposed the passage of that Act; welcomes the annual publication of the higher education performance indicators which enable institutions to reflect on their own position; abhors the recent misinterpretation of those indicators as targets or quotas linked to funding; agrees that admissions to higher education should always be based on merit; further welcomes the recent report from Professor Schwartz on fair admissions to higher education; agrees that it is for institutions themselves to decide how to implement the Schwartz principles; supports the Government's policies to widen participation in higher education and open access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the potential to benefit; congratulates the Government and the higher education sector on the steps they are taking to achieve this goal; notes that the most powerful driver of increased participation is to raise standards in schools; commends the new student support arrangements which will make higher education free at the point of use and fair at the point of repayment; further commends the establishment of the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) which will result in more financial support for students and more outreach work to boost applications from under-represented groups; and further notes that universities' admissions policies will be outside OFFA's remit', 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, Mr David Ruffley, Mr Crispin Blunt: 136.

      Tellers for the Noes, Mr Nick Ainger, Paul Clark: 332.

    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 believes that universities should be solely and wholly in charge of their own admissions policies, a point which was repeatedly made clear during the passage of the Higher Education Act 2004 and is now enshrined in that legislation; notes that the Opposition opposed the passage of that Act; welcomes the annual publication of the higher education performance indicators which enable institutions to reflect on their own position; abhors the recent misinterpretation of those indicators as targets or quotas linked to funding; agrees that admissions to higher education should always be based on merit; further welcomes the recent report from Professor Schwartz on fair admissions to higher education; agrees that it is for institutions themselves to decide how to implement the Schwartz principles; supports the Government's policies to widen participation in higher education and open access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the potential to benefit; congratulates the Government and the higher education sector on the steps they are taking to achieve this goal; notes that the most powerful driver of increased participation is to raise standards in schools; commends the new student support arrangements which will make higher education free at the point of use and fair at the point of repayment; further commends the establishment of the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) which will result in more financial support for students and more outreach work to boost applications from under-represented groups; and further notes that universities' admissions policies will be outside OFFA's remit.

2    Wind Farms,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House recognises that climate change is a major challenge for the twenty-first century and that renewable energy can help to cut carbon dioxide emissions; regrets the fact that renewable energy supplies only 2.7 per cent. of Britain's energy needs; deplores the Government's policy of relying exclusively on onshore wind farms to meet its renewable energy targets; condemns changes to the planning system which may lead to the construction of wind farms in inappropriate places against the wishes of local communities; and urges the Government to develop a wider mix of renewable energy technologies including hydro, off-shore wind, wave, tidal, solar, and bio-fuels and bio mass, combined heat and power, microgeneration, and energy efficiency—(Mr Tim Yeo);

    An Amendment was proposed to the Question, in line 1, to leave out from the word 'House' to the end of the Question and add the words 'recognises the passing of the Energy Act 2004 and the positive actions taken by the Government to increase the amount of energy supplied from renewable sources; welcomes the global leadership shown by the Government on climate change and commends actions taken to meet the UK's Kyoto targets; condemns the Official Opposition for opposing the development of renewables while claiming to support them in principle; notes the abject failure of the Official Opposition to provide coherent policy proposals to meet the climate change challenge and its continued opposition to the Climate Change Levy; praises the Government for providing significant resources and support to the development of wind energy, including 117 million for the development of offshore wind energy; further notes that a growing proportion of wind farm developments will occur offshore; supports steps taken by the Government to promote energy efficiency and notes with approval that the planning regime allows for wind farm proposals to be thoroughly considered in terms of their impacts on local communities and environments and their contributions to national energy needs and policies; commends the Government's commitment to diversifying the sources of the UK's energy supply and the related investment in a wide range of renewable technologies including energy crops, 60 million investment for biomass, 31 million towards photovoltaics and 50 million for wave and tidal; and further condemns the Official Opposition's energy policy that would drastically reduce the UK's investment in renewable technologies', instead thereof.—(Mr Mike O'Brien.)

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

    Mr Patrick McLoughlin 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, Mr David Ruffley, Mr Crispin Blunt: 183.

      Tellers for the Noes, Margaret Moran, Mr John Heppell: 298.

    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, Margaret Moran: 325.

      Tellers for the Noes, Mr Crispin Blunt, Mr David Ruffley: 140.

    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 the passing of the Energy Act 2004 and the positive actions taken by the Government to increase the amount of energy supplied from renewable sources; welcomes the global leadership shown by the Government on climate change and commends actions taken to meet the UK's Kyoto targets; condemns the Official Opposition for opposing the development of renewables while claiming to support them in principle; notes the abject failure of the Official Opposition to provide coherent policy proposals to meet the climate change challenge and its continued opposition to the Climate Change Levy; praises the Government for providing significant resources and support to the development of wind energy, including 117 million for the development of offshore wind energy; further notes that a growing proportion of wind farm developments will occur offshore; supports steps taken by the Government to promote energy efficiency and notes with approval that the planning regime allows for wind farm proposals to be thoroughly considered in terms of their impacts on local communities and environments and their contributions to national energy needs and policies; commends the Government's commitment to diversifying the sources of the UK's energy supply and the related investment in a wide range of renewable technologies including energy crops, 60 million investment for biomass, 31 million towards photovoltaics and 50 million for wave and tidal; and further condemns the Official Opposition's energy policy that would drastically reduce the UK's investment in renewable technologies.

3    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 Local Authorities (Indemnities for Members and Officers) Order 2004, which was laid before this House on 21st July, be approved—(Gillian Merron):—It was agreed to.

4    Value Added Tax,—A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the Value Added Tax (Disclosure of Avoidance Schemes) (Designations) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 1933), dated 22nd July 2004, a copy of which was laid before this House on 22nd July, be approved—(Gillian Merron):—It was agreed to.

5    Value Added Tax,—A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the Value Added Tax (Groups: eligibility) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 1931), dated 22nd July 2004, a copy of which was laid before this House on 22nd July, be approved—(Gillian Merron):—It was agreed to.

6    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 Financial Assistance for Young Farmers (Northern Ireland) Order 2004, which was laid before this House on 15th September, be approved—(Gillian Merron):—It was agreed to.

7    Constitutional 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 Primary Medical Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2004, which was laid before this House on 14th September, be approved—(Gillian Merron):—It was agreed to.

8    Damages,—A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation), That the draft Damages (Variation of Periodical Payments) Order 2004, which was laid before this House on 16th September, be approved—(Gillian Merron):—It was agreed to.

9    Integration of Financial Markets,—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. 4156/04 and Addendum 1, Financial Services Committee Report on Financial Integration; and supports the United Kingdom's five priorities for the future approach to financial services in the European Union—(Gillian Merron):—It was agreed to.

10    Business of the House,—Ordered, That, at the sitting on Tuesday 26th October, the Speaker shall put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the Motions in the name of Mr Peter Hain relating to Programming of Bills, Procedures for Debates, etc., Carry-over of Bills, Deferred Divisions, Short Speeches and Removal of References to Strangers not later than Six o'clock; such Questions shall include the Questions on any Amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; the Questions may be put after the moment of interruption and the Orders of the House of 28th June 2001 and 6th November 2003 relating to Deferred Divisions shall not apply.(Gillian Merron.)

11    Public Petitions,—A Public Petition from residents of Wincham and Lostock Gralam, Cheshire, against proposals to build an incinerator between Lostock Gralam and Rudheath was presented and read; and ordered to lie upon the Table and to be printed.

12    Adjournment,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House do now adjourn—(Gillian Merron);

    And the Motion having been made after Ten 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 three minutes to Eleven o'clock, till to-morrow.

[Adjourned at 10.57 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 22nd October 2004 pursuant to Standing Order No. 158 (Presentation of command papers):

1    Foreign and Commonwealth,—Paper, entitled The United Kingdom in the United Nations [Cm. 6325] [Mr Secretary Straw].

2    Miscellaneous (No. 12, 2004),—Stockholm Convention, done at Stockholm on 22nd May 2001, on Persistent Organic Pollutants, with an Explanatory Memorandum [Cm. 6353] [Mr Secretary Straw].

3    National Statistics,—Report of National Statistics for 2003-04 [Cm. 6294] [Mr Stephen Timms].

Papers delivered to the Votes and Proceedings Office on Friday 22nd October 2004 pursuant to Standing Order No. 159 (Presentation of statutory instruments):

Papers subject to Negative Resolution:

4    Customs and Excise,—Export Control (Libya Embargo) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2741), dated 19th October 2004, with an Explanatory Memorandum [Ms Secretary Hewitt].

5    Public Passenger Vehicles,—Public Service Vehicles (Traffic Regulation Conditions) (England and Wales) Regulations 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2682), dated 13th October 2004, with an Explanatory Memorandum [Mr Secretary Darling].

6    Road Traffic,—Road Traffic (Special Parking Area) (GLA Roads and GLA Side Roads) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2684), dated 14th October 2004, with an Explanatory Memorandum [Mr Secretary Darling].

Papers presented or laid upon the Table on Monday 25th October 2004:

Papers subject to Affirmative Resolution:

7    Criminal Law,—Draft Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Categories of Offences) Order 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Blunkett].

8    Regulatory Reform,—Draft Regulatory Reform (Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971) (Directory Entries and Demands for Payment) Order 2004, with a Statement from the Department for Trade and Industry [by Act] [Ms Secretary Hewitt].

Papers subject to Negative Resolution:

9    Competition,—Competition Act 1998 (Office of Fair Trading's Rules) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2751), dated 20th October 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Ms Secretary Hewitt].

10    Education,—Albion Junior School (Change to School Session Times) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2685), dated 18th October 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Clarke].

11    Electricity,—Renewable Energy Zone (Designation of Area) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2668), dated 13th October 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Straw].

12    Housing,—Housing (Right to Buy) (Designated Rural Areas and Designated Regions) (England) (No. 2) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2681), dated 14th October 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Prescott].

13    National Debt,—Government Stock (Consequential and Transitional Provision) (No. 3) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2744), dated 21st October 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Stephen Timms].

14    National Health Service,—National Health Service (Primary Medical Services) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2694), dated 18th October 2004 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Reid].

15    Parliamentary Commissioner,—Parliamentary Commissioner Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2670), dated 13th October 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Ruth Kelly].

Other Papers:

16    Caribbean and North Atlantic Territories,—Cayman Islands (Constitution) (Amendment No. 2) Order (S.I., 2004, No. 2673), dated 13th October 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Straw].

17    Government Resources and Accounts,—Resource Accounts of the Office of the Rail Regulator for 2003-04, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 1094] [Mr Stephen Timms].

18    National Audit,—Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on English Regions: Getting Citizens Involved: Community Participation in Neighbourhood Renewal [by Act]; to be printed [No. 1070] [Clerk of the House].

19    Pitcairn Islands,—Pitcairn Court of Appeal (Amendment) Order 2004 (S.I., 2004, No. 2669), dated 13th October 2004 [by Act], with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Command] [Mr Secretary Straw].

APPENDIX II

Reports from Select Committees

Public Accounts,—(1) Forty-eighth Report from the Committee of Public Accounts [Connexions Service]; to be printed, together with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 618];

    (2) Forty-ninth Report from the Committee [The recovery of debt by the Inland Revenue]; to be printed, together with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 584]; and

    (3) Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee [Ministry of Defence: Battlefield Helicopters]; to be printed [No. 1191-i]

    [Mr Edward Leigh].



 
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