House of Commons portcullis
House of Commons
Session 2005 - 06
Publications on the internet

Supplement to the House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
12 May 2006



9th May 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of dog breeders, dog owners and dog lovers,

Declares that dog breeds are docked for their own welfare against injury and infection. Scientists across the globe agree that tail docking does not cause pain as newborn dogs are relatively immature at birth and do not feel the same degree of pain as human babies, lambs or calves.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to revise its proposals to amend current legislation on tail docking and to preserve the petitioners' freedom of choice.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.



9th May 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of UK farmers and others,

Declares that that a more accurate, non user sensitive Bovine TB test should be introduced, along with new measures to stop the spread of the disease from wildlife and further research on vaccination.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to stop the slaughter of healthy British cattle and to introduce: accurate test for bovine TB measures to combat the disease at source (e.g. wildlife); and

3.vaccination of domestic and farm animals.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.



10th May 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of residents of Finmere and Mixbury, Oxfordshire, and the surrounding area,

Declares that that they are frustrated and concerned at the numerous, repeated and continued apparent breaches of planning control by Premier Aggregates Limited, owners and operators of the Finemere Quarry and Landfill facility. The Petitioners feel that Premier Aggregates appear to flout consistently many of the planning conditions imposed upon them by Oxfordshire County Council as Planning Authority and they are now seeking to appeal against an enforcement order issued by Oxfordshire County Council relating to overtipping of infill material. The County Council seem unable to resolve this situation, which affects the amenity of the villages and residents of Finmere and Mixbury and the surrounding areas.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to take the necessary action to ensure that Planning Authorities, such as Oxfordshire County Council, have effective controls that they can use on operators such as Premier Aggregates Limited.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


Observations by the Secretary of State for Health on the Petitions [28th March] from supporters of (i) Hornsea Cottage Hospital; (ii) Withernsea Hospital; (iii) Beverley Westwood Hospital; (iv) Save Felixstowe Hospital; (v) Aldeburgh Hospital; (vi) Surbiton Hospital; (vii) Sudbury Hospitals; (viii) Hartismere Hospital; (ix) Lymington Hospital; (x) Milford-on-Sea War Memorial Hospital; (xi) Fordingbridge Hospital; (xii) Hythe Hospital; (xiii) Fenwick Hospital; (xiv) Thames Ditton Hospital; (xv) Molesey Hospital; (xvi) Cobham and Oxshott Hospital; (xvii) Walton Community Hospital; (xviii) Cossham Memorial Hospital; (xix) Edenbridge War Memorial Hospital; (xx) Tonbridge Cottage Hospital; (xxi) Weybridge Hospital; (xxii) Penrith and Eden Community Hospital; (xxiii) Wigton Community Hospital; (xxiv) the League of Friends of Ruth Lancaster James Hospital; (xxv) Brampton and District War Memorial Cottage Hospital; (xxvi) Bishop's Castle Community Hospital; (xxvii) Ludlow Community Hospital; (xxviii) Romsey Hospital; (xxix) the Minor Injuries Unit, Buxton Cottage Hospital; (xxx) Macclesfield District General Hospital; (xxxi) Macclesfield and Congleton District Hospitals; (xxxii) Newmarket Community Hospital; (xxxiii) Mary Hewetson Hospital; (xxxiv) Maryport Victoria Cottage Hospital League of Friends; (xxxv) Cockermouth Cottage Hospital; (xxxvi) Millom Community Hospital; (xxxvii) Workington Community Hospital; (xxxviii) Bradford on Avon Hospital; (xxxix) Warminster Community Hospital; (xl) Westbury Hospital; (xli) Tetbury Hospital; (xlii) Fairford Hospital; (xliii) Townlands Hospital; (xliv) Chipping Norton War Memorial Hospital; (xlv) Doddington Community Hospital; and [29th March] from supporters of Newmarket Community Hospital against reductions in community hospital services.

    Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services (Cm. 6737) sets out a vision for more care to be provided in local and convenient settings. Central to this vision is ensuring that the necessary infrastructure is in place to support this shift in services. Community hospitals and related smaller facilities will form an important part of this infrastructure.

    The White Paper makes clear that community hospitals currently under threat of closure should not be lost in response to short-term budgetary pressures that are not related to the viability of the community facility itself. To that end, the Department of Health wrote to Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) on 16th February 2006 about the need for SHAs to assure themselves that all Primary Care Trust (PCT) proposals for changes relating to community hospitals are consistent with the long-term strategy of the White Paper to move care closer to patients' homes and that local people are properly consulted.

    In addition, the Department held meetings with SHAs during March 2006 to ensure that any plans locally to reconfigure community services:

    i)fit with the commitment to invest an increasing proportion of NHS resources in providing care in community settings;

    ii)support the White Paper principles of providing modern health and social care in more local and community settings;

    iii)fit with the White Paper vision of a new generation of community hospitals, for example, giving scope for the provision of specialist care more locally such as diagnostics, day-case surgery and outpatients; and

    iv)are consistent with the White Paper goal of reducing unnecessary bed occupancies, e.g. for providing step-down rehabilitation beds in community hospitals.

    Ultimately, however, the configuration of healthcare services in a particular area is a decision that needs to be taken at a local level. PCTs, with their perspective across hospital, community and primary care, are best placed to take such decisions. They have a responsibility under Section 11 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 to involve and consult people for whom services are being or may be provided on both the development and consideration of proposals for changes in the way those services are provided and consult them on decisions to be made affecting the operation of those services.

    Furthermore, Local Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committees have the power to review and scrutinise health services from the perspective of their local populations. NHS bodies are under a duty to consult Overview and Scrutiny Committees on any plans to make substantial variation to NHS services. Those committees have the powers to refer any proposal to the Secretary of State if they believe the plans are not in the interests of the health service.

8th May 2006


Observations by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the Petition [15th March] from traders and residents of Billericay and others against increases in business rates.

    Phil Woolas has recently written to John Baron, MP for Billericay on the issue of business rate increases. Phil Woolas wrote

    "As you know a revaluation is undertaken by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) every five years, with the most recent revaluation in April 2005. The rateable values of individual properties generally rise and fall at each revaluation in line with the property market. The purpose of revaluation is to distribute the tax in a more equitable way by updating the value of the property, thereby making the tax base more current and relevant. However, this does not necessarily correspond to an increase in rate bills as the overall tax take will not increase.

    Those ratepayers with larger increases in rates bills may benefit from the transitional scheme which phases in increases within a period of up to four years depending on the size of the increase. Similarly ratepayers whose bills have declined significantly may have these decreases phased in under the transition scheme.

    Ratepayers can also seek to reduce their rate bills by appealing to the VOA to reduce their rateable value."

9th May 2005


Observations by the Secretary of State for Transport on the Petition [26th April] from people of Boyce and St. Mary's Wards, Castle Point, Essex for improved pedestrian safety.

    Benfleet is situated in Essex, approximately 35 miles east of central London, to the north of Canvey Island and west of Southend-on-Sea. High Road, which is a two way single carriageway route, runs in a north-south direction through South Benfleet and forms part of the B1006 that links the main east-west A13 to the A130 north of Canvey Island.

    Essex County Council, as the Local Highway Authority, has reported that a pedestrian crossing will be constructed on High Road between Queens Road and Vicarage Hill during 2006. Both the pedestrian crossing and right turning vehicles will and do result in reducing traffic speed on the High Road. Furthermore, Essex County Council's investigations have shown there is no problem with excessive vehicle speed on High Road.

    Requests have been received for speed investigations on Vicarage Hill from a local councillor and the local MP. An investigation was carried out following a fatal accident a number of years ago however, that was as a consequence of drink driving rather than as a result of speeding.

    There is a possible issue on Vicarage Hill where vehicles may exceed the 30mph limit as a consequence of hard uphill acceleration, or not braking when travelling downhill. Essex County Council would instigate a speed survey on Vicarage Hill if a specific problem is brought to its attention.

    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.

9th May 2006


Observations by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the Petition [21st March] from supporters of the Isitfair Council Tax protest campaign for a fair and equitable replacement for council tax.

    Accepts that above inflation increases in Council Tax do cause hardship to those on fixed incomes for whom council tax absorbs significant amounts of disposable income, but supports responsible control of Local Authority Expenditure and reasonable Council Tax increases. Notes that Council Tax levels are decided by Local Authorities. The Government reserves the right to cap excessive increases.

    Notes that proposed revaluation of domestic properties in England has subject to Parliament, been postponed, calls on Parliament to support that postponement, and notes that the Government has set up an Independent Inquiry, led by Sir Michael Lyons, to consider the detailed case for changes to the present system of local government funding and to make recommendations on any changes that are necessary and how to implement them. As part of his inquiry, Sir Michael is looking at how best to reform council tax to make it fairer and more sustainable. On 20th September the Government announced that it was extending the remit of the Sir Michael's Inquiry so that he could consider local government funding in the context of the wider functions of local government and its future role and, in the light of this, postponing the revaluation of council tax in England. Sir Michael is due to report by the end of this year.

    Sir Michael is aware of the sort of concerns that the IsItFair campaign and many others have expressed about how the current council tax system affects those on low and fixed incomes and the Government looks forward to receiving his recommendations.

    Requests that proposals for a workable fair local tax be forwarded and rejects the idea that local tax should be levied irrespective of wealth, including home ownership and supports a fair benefit system which takes into account both income and wealth.

10th May 2006

House of Commons home page Houses of Parliament home page House 
of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Revised 12 May 2006