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Session 2005 - 06
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Supplement to the House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
10 February 2006

SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM PEOPLE LIVING AROUND THE ST. MARY'S CHURCH CONSERVATION AREA, BENFLEET, ESSEX

2nd February 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of people living around the St. Mary's Church Conservation Area, Benfleet, Essex,

Declares that we the residents of Benfleet and surrounding areas object to the proposed demolition of the parade of shops in High Road, Benfleet to make way for a new block of shops including 13 two-storey flats above the shops with 13 parking spaces for those residents, on the grounds that there are insufficient parking spaces available for customers wishing to use the shops resulting in potential loss of trade to shopkeepers and this loss is unacceptable and for many other valid planning reasons as set out by the Member of Parliament in his objection letter.

The Petitioners therefore call on the House of Commons to urge the Government to impress upon Castle Point Borough Council the need to reject the application on behalf of all residents of Castle Point.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM RESIDENTS AND PATIENTS IN STAFFORDSHIRE

7th February 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of concerned residents and patients in Staffordshire,

Declares that the Government's plans to merge and centralise the Staffordshire ambulance service will lead to a poorer service, undermine morale and increase costs.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons opposes the planned merger of the Staffordshire Ambulance Service into a regional West Midlands Service.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM RESIDENTS OF NORTH WEST LEICESTERSHIRE AND OTHER AREAS

7th February 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of residents of North West Leicestershire and other areas,

Declares that there is a persistent and growing problem of student debt, particularly among those training in nursing and midwifery, as evidenced by a Royal College of Midwives survey showing that over 20 per cent. of such students, many of them more mature ones, do not complete their studies due to financial hardship. Notes that student midwives are sometimes taking out overdraft facilities, remortgaging their homes, cashing in endowment policies and buying food on credit cards in attempts to make ends meet. Regrets that trainees for these key health professions are in such difficulty.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Secretary of State for Health to work with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to examine the possibility of ensuring that all NHS Students of Nursing and Midwifery receive a non means-tested bursary of 10,000 per year for their course to enable them to train in their chosen career.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM SUPPORTERS OF THE SIR CHARLES DILKE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

8th February 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of Supporters of the Sir Charles Dilke Memorial Hospital

Declares that the Petitioners object to proposals to move the Sir Charles Dilke Memorial Hospital from its present site. The Petitioners further declare that the present Hospital site should be extended and improved.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to take immediate steps to ensure that the Sir Charles Dilke Memorial Hospital continues to provide all services at its present site.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs on the Petition [30th November] from Harvey Cedric Alexander for support for sufferers of criminal injuries.

    I am in receipt of the Petition dated 30th November 2005 signed by Harvey Cedric Alexander on the availability of legal aid for victims of crime.

    Legal aid ensures that vulnerable and disadvantaged people are not denied access to justice because of their inability to pay for it. It also ensures that people accused of crime get a proper defence and, therefore, a fair hearing.

    The Criminal Defence Service Bill will introduce a means test for criminal legal aid. The principle behind this Bill is to ensure that those who can afford to pay for their defence do so. The measures, if enacted, will mean that there is no longer an automatic right to legal aid in criminal cases, at public expense, for those who have the means to fund their own defence.

    The Government believes that victims of criminal injuries should not be denied access to justice. On 2nd March 2005 the Government announced a package of measures to reform civil and family legal aid. This followed the consultation paper A new focus for civil legal aid - encouraging early resolution; discouraging unnecessary litigation, which was published by the Legal Services Commission. As a result of New Focus, new Directions were made to ensure that legal help in relation to applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority would remain within the scope of public funding. Legal Help may extend to obtaining Counsel's opinion or submitting a written case to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

    Whilst legal aid does not normally fund full representation before the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, funding can be made available to individuals in exceptional circumstances, under the provisions of section 6(8)b of the Access to Justice Act 1999. Exceptional funding may be available in cases of a significant wider pubic interest, or where a person is unable to represent themselves, either because of mental capacity issues or language difficulties, or because the issues are extremely complex.

6th February 2006


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Transport on the Petition [16th January] from residents of the Furs Estate, South Woodford, London, and others against the use of enclosed estates as practices areas and test routes for learner drivers.

    We recognise that excessive use of the Firs estate by learner drivers could give rise to concerns for its residents.

    The Driving Standards Agency (DSA), the part of my department responsible for driver training and testing, is aware of these issues. DSA staff have made local approved driving instructors (ADI) aware of the complaints and have attempted to dissuade them from using this particular estate for driving practice.

    ADIs generally use the area surrounding their local driving test centre for training to help familiarise their pupils with the area in which they will be taking their test, although DSA does not condone this practice. Each driving test centre has a number of approved test routes in order to reduce traffic in any particular area. Using different routes also helps to prevent learner drivers from learning the routes and driving hazards on them by rote.

    To cope better with local demand for driving tests, DSA has recently moved to a staggered test regime which has increased the number of tests being conducted out of Wanstead, the nearest test centre to the Firs estate. Wanstead test centre has 14 test routes operating out of it, but only three include roads on the Firs estate. Since January 2004, DSA has received reports of just three minor accidents on roads on the Firs estate during driving tests.

    As local estates are the responsibility of the respective local authority my Department is not in a position to impose or enforce the requested restriction on these public roads.

    DSA will continue to work with residents and local driving instructors on this issue but there is no evidence to suggest that the Firs estate is used any more by learner drivers than any other estate in the country.

6th February 2006


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the Petition [10th January] from residents of Brighton and others in support of a ban on pet markets.

    The Government accepts that the legal position of pet markets (or pet fairs as they are also known) is unclear. Some local authorities license pet fairs under the Pet Animals Act 1951 (as amended in 1983). Some other authorities do not. It is estimated that some 350 one-day pet fairs, where the primary purpose is the sale of animals, occur every year. Only a court can rule conclusively on whether pet fairs are illegal under the 1951 Act and, as yet, the Act has not been the subject of a binding court ruling.

    There is a lack of evidence that indicates pet fairs by their very nature cannot meet acceptable welfare standards. Under the Animal Welfare Bill, the Government has proposed to introduce secondary regulations on pet vending which will help clarify the position of pet fairs. The Government has proposed to license pet fairs. Details of the proposal to license pet fairs can be found in the Regulatory Impact Assessment which was published alongside the Animal Welfare Bill, currently being considered by Parliament.

    There will also be a full public consultation before any regulations in this area are made.

8th February 2006



 
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Revised 10 February 2006