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House of Commons
Session 1998-99
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Thursday 11th November 1999

The House met at half-past Eleven o'clock.
PRAYERS.
1Accommodation and Works,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Accommodation and Works Committee be printed [No. 890].
2Administration,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Administration Committee be printed [No. 891].
3Agriculture,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Agriculture Committee be printed [No. 892].
4Broadcasting,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Broadcasting Committee be printed [No. 893].
5Catering,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Catering Committee be printed [No. 894].
6Culture, Media and Sport,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee be printed [No. 895].
7Defence,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Defence Committee be printed [No. 896].
8Education and Employment,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Education and Employment Committee be printed, together with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Education Sub-Committee and the Employment Sub-Committee [No. 898].
9Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee be printed, together with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Environment Sub-Committee and the Transport Sub-Committee [No. 899].
10Environmental Audit,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Environmental Audit Committee be printed [No. 900].
11European Scrutiny,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the European Scrutiny Committee be printed [No. 901].
12Finance and Services,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Finance and Services Committee be printed [No. 902].
13Food Standards,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Food Standards Committee be printed [No. 908].
14Foreign Affairs,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Foreign Affairs Committee be printed [No. 903].
15Health,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Health Committee be printed [No. 904].
16Home Affairs,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Home Affairs Committee be printed [No. 905].
17Information,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Information Committee be printed [No. 906].
18International Development,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the International Development Committee on 4th November be printed [No. 907].
19Liaison,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Liaison Committee on 4th November be printed [No. 944].
20Modernisation of the House of Commons,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons be printed [No. 909].
21Northern Ireland Affairs,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee be printed [No. 910].
22Procedure,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Procedure Committee be printed [No. 911].
23Public Accounts,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee of Public Accounts be printed [No. 912].
24Public Administration,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Select Committee on Public Administration be printed [No. 913].
25Science and Technology,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Science and Technology Committee be printed [No. 914].
26Scottish Affairs,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Scottish Affairs Committee be printed [No. 915].
27Social Security,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Social Security Committee be printed [No. 916].
28Standards and Privileges,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee on Standards and Privileges be printed [No. 917].
29Statutory Instruments,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments be printed [No. 918].
30Statutory Instruments,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Select Committee appointed to join with a Committee of the House of Lords on Statutory Instruments be printed [No. 919].
31Trade and Industry,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Trade and Industry Committee be printed [No. 920].
32Treasury,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Treasury Committee be printed, together with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Treasury Sub-Committee [No. 921].
33Welsh Affairs,—Ordered, That the Minutes of Proceedings of the Welsh Affairs Committee be printed [No. 922].
34Business of the House,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That, at this day's sitting—
 
        (i) the Speaker shall not adjourn the House until any Messages from the Lords shall have been received; and
 
        (ii) if the House has completed its consideration of any Messages received from the Lords and the Lords have adjourned their sitting, the Speaker shall adjourn the House without Question put—(Mr Graham Allen);
 
        Mr Keith Bradley 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;
 
        The House divided.
 
          Tellers for the Ayes, Mrs Anne McGuire, Mr Robert Ainsworth: 258.
 
          Tellers for the Noes, Mrs Eleanor Laing, Mr Keith Simpson: 72.
 
        So the Question was agreed to.
 
        And the Main Question being accordingly put;
 
        The House divided.
 
          Tellers for the Ayes, Mrs Anne McGuire, Mr Robert Ainsworth: 269.
 
          Tellers for the Noes, Mrs Eleanor Laing, Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: 74.
 
        So the Question was agreed to.
 
        Ordered, That, at this day's sitting—
 
        (i) the Speaker shall not adjourn the House until any Messages from the Lords shall have been received; and
 
        (ii) if the House has completed its consideration of any Messages received from the Lords and the Lords have adjourned their sitting, the Speaker shall adjourn the House without Question put.
35Message from the Lords,—A Message was brought from the Lords, as follows:
 
        The Lords do not insist on their Amendments to the House of Lords Bill, to which this House has disagreed.
36Message to attend the Lords Commissioners,—A Message from the Lords Commissioners was delivered by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.
 
        Madam Speaker,
 
        The Lords, authorised by virtue of Her Majesty's Commission, for declaring Her Royal Assent to several Acts agreed upon by both Houses and for proroguing the present Parliament, desire the immediate attendance of this Honourable House in the House of Peers, to hear the Commission read.
 
        Accordingly the Speaker, with the House, went up to the House of Peers, where a Commission was read, giving, declaring and notifying the Royal Assent to several Acts, and for proroguing this present Parliament.
 
        The Royal Assent was given to the following Acts:—
 
          Food Standards Act 1999
 
          Greater London Authority Act 1999
 
          Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999
 
          Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999
 
          Mental Health (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 1999
 
          Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
 
          House of Lords Act 1999.
 
        And afterwards Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech was delivered to both Houses of Parliament by the Lord High Chancellor (in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command), as follows:
 
        My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
 
        The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to receive the State Visits of His Excellency The President of Germany last December, of His Excellency The President of Hungary last June and of His Excellency The President of the People's Republic of China in October.
 
        We recall with pleasure our State Visit to Korea in April.
 
        We were delighted to pay State Visits to Ghana and South Africa over the last four days.
 
        My Government have taken action to build a platform of economic stability and steady growth, based on clear long-term objectives for monetary and fiscal policy, with openness and transparency in policy making.
 
        My Government's goal is high and stable levels of growth and employment. The new system of monetary policy-making ensures that interest rate decisions are taken in the best long-term interests of the economy. As a result, the UK now has a sound and credible platform of stability. Inflation is historically low and expected to remain close to target. And long-term interest rates are also at historically low levels. Employment is up by over half a million since the election, with more people in work in Britain today than ever before.
 
        To ensure high levels of employment, my Government are extending the New Deal, to help more young people and the long term unemployed. And my Government are tackling the poverty and unemployment traps. To make work pay and encourage job creation, they have introduced the national minimum wage and the new 10p starting rate of tax, cut the basic rate of income tax from next April, and reformed national insurance. And the Working Families Tax Credit, introduced in October, is helping to make work pay for low paid working families.
 
        My Government are continually looking at ways to improve productivity, including in the public sector. They have set tough targets for outputs from every department in Public Service Agreements.
 
        My Government's legislation to raise standards for all children is now coming into effect. There has been a widespread reduction in the number of children in infant classes of over 30 and there is extensive support for the literacy and numeracy strategies. My Government published the Teachers Green Paper—the most radical reform of the teaching profession in a generation—and has since announced progress towards a new pay structure for teachers.
 
        Parliament has passed for the first time legislation for the creation of a Disability Rights Commission, which will help create a positive climate for people with disabilities in their lives and work.
 
        My Government have put in place the framework for a modern National Health Service. An Act has been passed to replace the NHS internal market with decentralised arrangements based on partnership, quality and efficiency. Waiting lists have been reduced by 200,000 since their high point in April 1998, and by 69,000 since March 1997.
 
        An Act has been passed to establish a Food Standards Agency to protect public health and the interests of consumers in relation to food.
 
        Legislation has been enacted to support minimum standards at work, to promote partnership and to make it easier for people to combine family responsibilities and employment.
 
        An Act has been passed which takes forward my Government's programme of welfare reform, promoting work for those who are able to work and security for those who cannot.
 
        My Government have begun the modernisation of local government. Legislation has been enacted to secure the delivery of high quality local services on a sound financial basis.
 
        My Government have begun the process of restoring democratic, city-wide government in London. Legislation was enacted to establish the Greater London Authority, providing London with a new form of strategic governance.
 
        An Act has been passed which will enable the implementation of the EU Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, which will maintain a coherent pollution control regime for the United Kingdom.
 
        Legislation has been enacted to provide a fair basis for water charging in England and Wales.
 
        An Act has been passed to modernise and strengthen immigration control. It will speed up the system of immigration and asylum appeals. This Act is essential to the delivery of a fairer, faster and firmer immigration and asylum system to which my Government is committed.
 
        An Act has been passed which creates a new sentencing disposal for first time defendants pleading guilty in the youth court and introduces new measures to help vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence in criminal trials.
 
        Legislation has been enacted to establish a Community Legal Service and a Criminal Defence Service. They will replace existing legal aid arrangements and enable resources to be better targeted. The Act also extends the use of conditional fees, removes unnecessary restrictions on the provision of legal services and makes reforms to magistrates' courts and the appeals system. This will increase access to justice. Other law reform measures have been enacted.
 
        As a first step in a process of reform, legislation has been enacted to remove the automatic right of hereditary peers to membership of the House of Lords.
 
        The people of Scotland and Wales voted to have their own Parliament and National Assembly and it was my pleasure with The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales to open the National Assembly of Wales on 26th May and to open the Scottish Parliament on 1st July.
 
        In Northern Ireland, my Government have continued to work to secure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. They have, in co-operation with the Irish Government, established a review to overcome difficulties in its implementation. They have welcomed the Report of the Independent Commission on Policing.
 
        Members of the House of Commons
 
        I thank you for the provision you have made for the work and dignity of the Crown and for the public service.
 
        My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
 
        Over the last year, my Government have played a leading role in the European Union. They have continued to strengthen bilateral relations with our partners. My Government have welcomed the entry into force of new treaty provisions which strengthen the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy and have welcomed the appointment of the first High Representative. In co-operation with other Member States, they have ensured a successful outcome to the Agenda 2000 negotiations that maintained the United Kingdom's budget abatement.
 
        My Government have played a key role in preparing the European Union for the historic challenge of enlargement. They have also helped the applicant countries prepare for membership.
 
        My Government welcomed the launch of the euro on 1st January. They have published an outline National Changeover Plan, which could be implemented should Britain decide to join. They have welcomed the appointment of a new European Commission, committed to reform.
 
        My Government have maintained strong and modern defence for Britain based on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. They played a leading role in the decisions taken at NATO's 50th Anniversary summit in Washington to modernise further and prepare the Alliance for the challenges and opportunities it will face in the new century.
 
        My Government launched an historic initiative at the Franco-British St. Malo Summit. This will make the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy more effective and will revitalise the Atlantic Alliance.
 
        My Government launched an initiative at the British-Italian London Summit to improve the effectiveness of European defence forces. My Government have continued successfully to restructure the Armed Forces to meet the demands of the modern world.
 
        My Government reaffirmed its commitment to support the United Nations by signing a Memorandum of Understanding declaring United Kingdom forces potentially available for United Nations' peacekeeping Operations and by announcing its intention to make an increased contribution to UN police operations.
 
        My Government made a substantial and vital contribution to the success of the international community's diplomatic, political and military efforts to halt and reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Following the end of the conflict, my Government have played an important role in reconstructing Kosovo and preparing it for free and fair elections.
 
        My Government's political, military and financial commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina has continued to help build peace there.
 
        My Government has supported the democratic transition in Indonesia and has played a leading role, including a military contribution, in the UN process to help bring self-determination to the people of East Timor.
 
        Following the abolition of the death penalty under United Kingdom law, my Government signed and ratified the 6th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.
 
        My Government have published a white paper proposing a new partnership with our Overseas Territories and offering British citizenship to their people.
 
        My Government have negotiated new arrangements which re-establish links between the Falkland Islands and Argentina.
 
        After extensive diplomatic effort by my Government, the Government of Libya finally agreed to hand over the two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case. We are pleased that my Government subsequently reached an agreement on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Libya.
 
        My Goverment supported and welcomed the transition to democratic civilian government in Nigeria.
 
        My Government have played a leading role in securing international agreement to reduce further the debt burden of very poor countries. My Government have put into place a strategy to increase the proportion of the United Kingdom's bilateral development assistance going to low income countries and to increase the focus of the multilateral agencies on the reduction of poverty. An Act has been passed to convert the Commonwealth Development Corporation to a public-private partnership enabling it to make a larger contribution to development by channelling increased private sector investment into the poorest countries.
 
        My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
 
        I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend you.
 
        After which the Lord Chancellor said:
 
        My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:
 
        By virtue of Her Majesty's Commission which has now been read we do, in Her Majesty's name, and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Wednesday the seventeenth day of this instant November, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Wednesday the seventeenth day of this instant November.
Betty Boothroyd
Speaker        


APPENDIX I
Papers presented or laid upon the Table:
Papers subject to Negative Resolution:
1Housing,—Housing (Right to Acquire) (Discount) (Amendment) Order 1999 (S.I., 1999, No. 3028), dated 8th November 1999 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
2Prices,—Price Marking Order 1999 (S.I. 1999, No. 3042), dated 10th November 1999 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Byers].
Other Papers:
3Foreign Affairs,—Government Response to the Fifth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session 1998-99, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office Resources [by Command] [Cm. 4462] [Mr Secretary Cook].
4Parliamentary Papers,—Alphabetical Index to the Bills, House of Commons Papers and Command Papers in the House of Commons set of parliamentary papers with notes on the volume arrangement and summary of legislation, Session 1998-99, Fifty-second Parliament, Second Session, 47th and 48th Elizabeth II, 24th November 1998 to 11th November 1999; to be printed [No. 943] [The Speaker].
APPENDIX II
Reports from Select Committees
Environmental Audit,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Environmental Audit Committee [A Sustainable Millennium Round]; to be printed [No. 883-iii] [Mr John Horam].



 
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