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Session 2005 - 06
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Supplement to the House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
21 April 2006

SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM RESIDENTS OF CASTLE POINT AND OTHERS

30th March 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of residents of Castle Point and others,

Declares that deafness and difficulty of hearing are serious and very debilitating conditions and is undervalued as a disability in many ways therefore the Petitioners believe that lip reading is a skill for life and should be provided free of charge to those who need it and are concerned that there is effectively postcode discrimination on the provision of this essential skill, with, for instance, fees in Castle Point being increased from £5 to £90 and that this discriminates against the poor and vulnerable and will prevent people achieving healthy and active life styles and will cost the state more in the longer term.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons call upon the Government to ensure there is universal free provision of lip reading services for deaf people and the hard of hearing.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM RESIDENTS OF CASTLE POINT AND OTHERS

30th March 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of residents of Castle Point and others,

Declares that the Petitioners are deeply concerned about yob behaviour which is causing serious problems for local communities and particularly the elderly with hordes of noisy young people creating more than a nuisance of themselves, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights and that individuals have attempted to bring this to the attention of the council and police which jointly have the responsibility to stop it, but without success, therefore we have decided to get together and hope that this community wide appeal to the authorities will bring results.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons call upon Castle Point Borough Council and the police to take tough action to ensure that yob behaviour which is destroying quality of life is addressed in a sustainable manner.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM UK RESIDENTS

30th March 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of UK residents,

Declares that there is a scandalous lack of funding for children's hospices which care for the most poorly kids, which means these are forced to rely on charitable donations.

The Petitioners therefore implore the House of Commons to call upon the Government to urgently provide short term funds to children's hospices to cover the loss of lottery funds and to improve the longer term funding arrangements for children's hospices and further urges the Government to do all within its power to ensure that children's hospices are, at the very least, funded at the thirty per cent. level awarded to adult hospices.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs on the Petition [16th February] from residents of Humberstone, Leicester against the decision of St. Mary's Parochial Church Council preventing visitors from placing flowers and mementoes at grave sites.

    The management of churchyards is a matter for the relevant parochial church council which has a statutory responsibility for their care and maintenance. Councils are required to maintain churchyards in an orderly and decent manner, as becomes consecrated ground, and may make reasonable regulations as regards matters such as the laying of flowers.

    The Government has no power to intervene in these matters of local discretion. Anyone aggrieved at any restrictions imposed in any particular case would be well advised to raise their concerns direct with the council concerned.

18th April 2006


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on the Petition [29th March] from the SaveFriarswoodPrimary.com Campaign against the closure of Friarswood Primary School, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

    Her Majesty's Government has noted the views of the residents of the savefriarswood.com campaign and acknowledges the success of the school in gaining School Improvement Awards.

    Local Authorities (LAs) are responsible for planning school places in their area and have a duty to ensure that there are sufficient places and, that high quality education is provided in a cost effective way. Government Ministers are not directly involved in the planning for or organisation of, schools and decisions such as those to close schools are taken locally.

    The Government established a legislative framework which sets out the statutory procedures to be followed whenever a change in school provision is proposed. These procedures require LAs to consult everyone likely to be affected by the change and provide sufficient information to enable those being consulted to form a considered view.

    If, having assessed the views received during consultation, the decision is taken to proceed, the LA must then publish statutory proposals by means of an official public notice placed in both the local press and in a prominent position at the school. There follows a 6-week statutory representation period during which written objections and comments may be submitted. Should no objections be received, the LA may then take a final decision. If written objections are received, the proposals, representations and LA comments on them must be placed before the local School Organisation Committee (SOC) for determination. If the SOC cannot reach a unanimous decision the proposals must be passed to the independent Schools Adjudicator for a final decision.

    The Secretary of State for Education and Skills has issued statutory guidance which sets out the factors that SOCs and the Schools Adjudicator must take into account in reaching a decision and these include the impact on standards, the need for places, the views of interested parties, cost effectiveness etc.

    More detailed information on the process and the factors for deciding statutory proposals can be found at www.dfes.gov.uk/schoolorg.

    Whilst LAs have been encouraged to take action to remove surplus places, especially where schools have a quarter or more of their places unfilled and at least 30 surplus places, removal must always support the core agenda of raising standards and respect parents wishes by seeking to match school places with parental choice.

    Staffordshire LA is in the early stages of consultation process. Parents and other interested parties must be consulted upon the various options proposed by the LA which will enable local people to have the chance to voice any concerns.

    The Government believes that the current arrangements allow for the interests of local people to be considered and that wherever possible, decisions on local school organisation matters should be taken locally by key stakeholders. There are no grounds for the Government to intervene in this case.

18th April 2006


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the Petition [15th March] from British Somalilanders and friends of Somaliland for Somaliland's recognition as a state.

    The UK acknowledges the progress achieved by the Somaliland authorities in rebuilding the country after the ravages of civil war. We congratulate them on holding democratic Presidential elections in 2003 and most recently for Parliament in September 2005. We are committed to helping the Somaliland authorities to further their democratic and developmental agenda through bilateral and multilateral contributions to aid programmes.

    My noble friend, the Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman, met the Somaliland authorities' Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, H.E Edna Adan on 20th May 2005 and discussed Somaliland's desire for international recognition. He assured her that the UK recognises and welcomes the democratic achievements made by the Somaliland authorities and stands ready to support the process of development and democratisation. However, we believe that any new status of Somaliland should be achieved through negotiation and agreement with the rest of Somalia, including the region of Puntland.

    Somaliland united with Somalia in 1960 of its own free will. The UK, as the former protecting power is not directly affected by Somaliland's status in the way that Somaliland's geographical neighbours would be. Therefore, in the UK's view it is primarily for the Somalis, other countries in the region and the African Union to express views on any proposed change in Somaliland's status.

    However, the UK is aware of the strongly held views of the people and authorities of Somaliland and has assured them that we will not support any future arrangements, which are not acceptable to them.

18th April 2006


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Health on the Petition [15th February] from the Association of Directors of Public Health and its members against any weakening of a comprehensive ban on smoking in enclosed public places.

    On the 27th October we introduced into Parliament the Health Bill with provisions to end smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces.

    The measures in this Bill will make smoke-free places the norm and deliver real benefits as part of the Government's commitment to reduce smoking and to cut the number of smoking related deaths.

    Following the introduction of the Bill, we listened to many different views inside and outside Parliament on restricting smoking in public places, especially in relation to pubs and membership clubs. As a result of taking into account peoples views, we put forward revised proposals amending the Bill to a free vote of the House of Commons on 14th February. The Commons agreed by a very large majority to end smoking in virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces.

    This means every pub, club, café, restaurant, shopping centre, council office; hospital, factory and more will be smoke-free from the summer of 2007.

    This will protect millions of workers and consumers, shoppers and travellers from other people's second-hand smoke.

    This Bill is a huge step forward for public health and will help reduce deaths from cancer, heart disease and other smoking related diseases. Not only will we be protecting non-smokers but we will also provide smokers with an environment where it is easier to give up.

    By bringing forward the implementation of the ban to 2007, we are ensuring that benefits will reach the public sooner.

    The impact will be monitored from the outset, with a full review completed at the end of three years. I hope the Bill will be recognised as a major step forward in protecting people from second-hand smoke and improving the health of the nation.

18th April 2006


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Transport on the Petition [23rd March] from residents of Canvey and others for a new pelican crossing on High Road, Canvey Island.

    Canvey Island is situated in the south of Essex on the north bank of the Thames estuary sandwiched between Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea. Canvey is around 35 miles east of London and is around 5 miles in length, by about 3 miles wide. Although there is no High Road as identified by the Petition on the island, there is a High Street which provides a link between the main A130 and the east of the island.

    The High Street has an existing controlled crossing point at the junction with Elder Tree Road in the town centre, and a zebra crossing further along its length. It is a narrow thoroughfare and as such has no central pedestrian refuges.

    Responsibility for this is entirely with the Local Highway Authority and it is not for the Government to intervene. We have, however, brought the Petition to the attention of Essex County Council.

    If there is a specific location of concern to residents then Essex County Council would be pleased to carry out an appraisal as to whether a controlled crossing is required and would be feasible once the location has been made known to the Council.

18th April 2006


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Transport on the Petition [29th March] from residents of Newark and others against further delay in the programme to make the A46 in Nottinghamshire a dual carriageway.

    The Government recognises the significant local support for the A46 Newark to Widmerpool improvement scheme.

    This scheme is within the Highways Agency's Targeted Programme of Improvements and has been categorised as a route of regional importance. Following the Government's announcement on Regional Funding Allocations in July 2005, Ministers have asked the regions to set out their priorities for regional transport schemes as well as for housing and economic development.

    The East Midlands region has recently sent advice to Ministers on their transport priorities, including the A46 Newark to Widmerpool scheme. Ministers are now carefully considering this advice before making any decisions on the timing and funding for this and other schemes within the region. An announcement on the way forward for this scheme is expected to be made later in the year.

18th April 2006



 
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Revised 21 April 2006