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House of Commons
Session 1998-99
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Thursday 24th June 1999

The House met at half-past Eleven o'clock.
PRAYERS.
1Liaison,—Mr Robert Sheldon reported, pursuant to Standing Order No. 145 (Liaison Committee), That the Liaison Committee had directed him to report the following recommendations for the allocation of time for the consideration of Estimates on an allotted day (being the second allotted day in the present Session):
 
        That a day not later than 5th August be allotted for the consideration of the following Estimates for the financial year 1999-2000:
 
        1. Class I, Vote 4: Department for Education and Employment: Office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England.
 
        2. Class III: Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions as it relates to transport policy.
 
    and that debate on the first Estimate be interrupted not later than three hours after its commencement.
 
        Report to lie upon the Table.
2Northern Ireland Grand Committee,—Mr Peter Atkinson reported from the Northern Ireland Grand Committee, That it had considered the matter of the consultation document "Life Long Learning—a New Learning Culture for All", referred to it on 9th June, and had directed him to report accordingly to the House.
 
        Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee to be printed [No. 99].
3Message from the Lords,—A Message was brought from the Lords, as follows:
 
        The Lords have agreed to the Water Industry Bill, without Amendment.
 
        The Lords have agreed to the HFC Bank Bill, without Amendment.
4Genetically Modified Food and Producer Liability Bill,—Mr Alan Simpson, supported by Mr Tony Benn, Audrey Wise, Mr John McDonnell, Alice Mahon, Mr Llew Smith, Mr Robert Marshall-Andrews, Mr David Chaytor, Mr Jeremy Corbyn, Maria Fyfe, Mr John McAllion and Dr Ian Gibson, presented a Bill to make further provision with respect to the safety of and liability for the deliberate release or marketing of genetically modified organisms and genetically modified food; to establish a genetically modified organism compensation fund; and for connected purposes.
 
        And the same was read the first time, and ordered to be read a second time on Friday 23rd July and to be printed [Bill 128].
5Opposition Day [15th allotted day],—It being an allotted day at the disposal of the second largest opposition party in pursuance of Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business), the House proceeded to consider opposition business.
 
        Government's Policy for Widows,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House welcomes the long-overdue extension of widow's benefits to widowers, and the doubling of Bereavement Payments; but notes that this costs only £100 million annually in the long term, compared with the £600 million cut the Government will make through the replacement of widows' pensions by a Bereavement Tax Allowance, the abolition of Dividend Tax Credits and the restriction of Council Tax Benefit on higher-value properties; regrets the Government's woefully inadequate response to next year's halving of widows' entitlement to additional pension; welcomes the fact that this is now under investigation by the Parliamentary Ombudsman; and calls on the Government to cease their attacks on the living standards of widows—(Mr David Rendel);
 
        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 'supports the Government's proposals to reform bereavement benefits, including the Bereavement Payment, which will provide a tax-free lump sum of £2,000—double the value of the current Widow's Payment; welcomes the additional help given to the children of widowers, who will qualify for the new Widowed Parent's Allowance, which will replace the Widowed Mother's Allowance; welcomes the protection given to widows over 55, who might otherwise have no practical alternative to relying on Income Support; and welcomes the wide range of policies which are designed to assist women to play a full and active part in the community' 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 Phil Willis, Sir Robert Smith: 37.
 
          Tellers for the Noes, Mr Robert Ainsworth, Mr David Jamieson: 274.
 
        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 proposals to reform bereavement benefits, including the Bereavement Payment, which will provide a tax-free lump sum of £2,000—double the value of the current Widow's Payment; welcomes the additional help given to the children of widowers, who will qualify for the new Widowed Parent's Allowance, which will replace the Widowed Mother's Allowance; welcomes the protection given to widows over 55, who might otherwise have no practical alternative to relying on Income Support; and welcomes the wide range of policies which are designed to assist women to play a full and active part in the community.
 
        Food and Supermarkets,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House notes that the rapid expansion of out-of-town superstores under the Conservatives and the concentration of local market share has hit traditional town centres; notes that supermarket purchasing and pricing policies have hit farmers but not led to lower prices for consumers and are now under investigation by the Competition Commission as a result; further notes that a new wave of larger superstore developments and predatory pricing to gain market dominance, and a squeeze of local producers and traditional retailers, is threatened by Wal-Mart's acquisition of ASDA; therefore calls on the Government to reaffirm its commitment to preventing further out-of-town greenfield development, and to tackle urgently anti-competitive, anti-producer and anti-consumer practices by the major food retailers; and calls on the Prime Minister to put on record in the House the substantive contents of his meeting earlier this year with the Chief Executive of Wal-Mart and to clarify exactly what flexibility in planning regulation was offered in respect of any future superstore development—(Mr Matthew Taylor);
 
        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 'welcomes the Government's planning policy on town centres and retail development, which promotes the development of food retailing in existing centres; endorses its attempts to maintain vital, viable competitive town, district and neighbourhood centres, which provide a broad range of retail services accessible to the whole population regardless of whether they have access to a car; welcomes the benefits which supermarkets have brought to consumers; notes the concerns over the level of supermarket profits and approves the investigation of grocery retailing being carried out by the Competition Commission; welcomes the recently agreed re-shaping of the CAP and the establishment of the second pillar of the CAP—an integrated rural development policy; and welcomes the Government's commitment to rural communities, its efforts to increase collaborative marketing among farmers and encourage diversification, and its support for regional, speciality and traditional food producers' instead thereof.—(Mr Richard Caborn.)
 
        Question proposed, That the original words stand part of the Question.
 
        And it being Seven o'clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
6Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism,—Resolved, That the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Revival of Parts IVA and IVB) Order 1999, which was laid before this House on 23rd June, be approved.—(Mr Secretary Straw.)
7Contracting Out,—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 (Contracting Out of Highway Functions) Order 1999, which was laid before this House on 26th May, be approved—(Mr Mike Hall):—It was agreed to.
8Adjournment,—Resolved, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mr Mike Hall.)
 
        And accordingly the House, having continued to sit till Nine o'clock, adjourned till to-morrow.
[Adjourned at 9 p.m.
Betty Boothroyd
Speaker        

Madam Speaker will take the Chair at half-past Nine o'clock.

APPENDIX I
Papers presented or laid upon the Table:
Papers subject to Negative Resolution:
1Criminal Law,—Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Freezing of Funds and Prohibition on Investment) Regulations 1999 (S.I., 1999, No. 1786), dated 24th June 1999 [by Act] [Ms Patricia Hewitt].
2Food,—Food (Peanuts from Egypt) (Emergency Control) Order 1999 (S.I., 1999, No. 1800), dated 24th June 1999 [by Act] [Mr Nicholas Brown].
3Land Drainage,—Environmental Impact Assessment (Land Drainage Improvement Works) Regulations 1999 (S.I., 1999, No. 1783), dated 22nd June 1999 [by Act] [Mr Nicholas Brown].
4Merchant Shipping,—Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards of Safety Communications) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 (S.I., 1999, No. 1704), dated 14th June 1999 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
Other Papers:
5Audit Commission,—Accounts of the Audit Commission for Local Authorities and the National Health Service in England and Wales for the year ended 31st October 1998, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 592] [Clerk of the House].
6Broadcasting,—Report and Accounts of S4C for 1998 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Smith].
7Cloning,—Government Response to the Report by the Human Genetics Advisory Commission and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority on Cloning Issues in Reproduction, Science and Medicine [by Command] [Cm. 4387] [Mr Secretary Dobson].
8Criminal Appeal,—Accounts of the Criminal Cases Review Commission for 1998-99, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 591] [Clerk of the House].
9Crown Agents,—(1) Accounts of the Crown Agents Holding and Realisation Board for 1998, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 522] [Clerk of the House]; and
 
        (2) Report of the Chairman of the Crown Agents Holding and Realisation Board for 1998 [by Act] [Secretary Clare Short].
10Greenwich Hospital,—Accounts of the Greenwich Hospital and Travers Foundation for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 514] [Mr Secretary Robertson].
11Judicial Statistics,—Judicial Statistics for England and Wales for 1998 [by Command] [Cm. 4371] [Mr Keith Vaz].
12Legal Aid and Advice,—Report and Accounts of the Legal Aid Board for 1998-99 [by Act]; to be printed [No. 537] [Mr Keith Vaz].
13National Audit,—Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 1998 [by Act]; to be printed [No. 519] [Clerk of the House].
14Prisons,—Report of the Prisons Ombudsman for the period 1st January 1998 to 31st March 1999 [by Command] [Cm. 4369] [Mr Secretary Straw].
15Race Relations (Northern Ireland),—Report and Accounts of the Commission for Racial Equality for Northern Ireland for 1998-99 [by Statutory Instrument] [Secretary Marjorie Mowlam].
APPENDIX II
Reports from Select Committees
1Culture, Media and Sport,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee [The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and its Quangos]; to be printed [No. 506-iii] [Mr Gerald Kaufman].
2Defence,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Defence Committee [Kosovo]; to be printed [No. 593-i] [Mr Bruce George.]
3Environmental Audit,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Environmental Audit Committee [The Budget 1999]; to be printed [No. 326-iii] [Mr John Horam].
4Health,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Health Committee [Procedures related to Adverse Clinical Incidents and Outcomes in Medical Care]; to be printed [No. 549-ii] [Mr David Hinchliffe].
5Local Government (Organisation and Standards),—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Joint Committee on Local Government (Organisation and Standards); to be printed [No. 542-iii] [Mr Peter L. Pike.]
6Scottish Affairs,—First Report from the Scottish Affairs Committee [Inward/Outward Investment in Scotland], 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. 84-I and -II] [Mr David Marshall].



 
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