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Session 2006 - 07
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Supplement to the House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
27 April 2007

SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

PETITION FROM PLYMOUTH ALZHEIMER'S SOCIETY

19th April 2007

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of Plymouth Alzheimer's Society,

Declares that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have restricted prescriptions for Alzheimer's drugs although these treatments are proven to provide real benefits to thousands of people at all stages of Alzheimer's disease and cost just 2.50 per day.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Health to ensure that doctors continue to be able to prescribe Alzheimer's drug treatments to patients who can benefit from them.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Defence on the Petition [13th March] from constituents from the Isle of Arran opposed to replacement of Trident nuclear weapons against the current trident nuclear missile system and any plans to update or replace that system.

    Following a period of Parliamentary and public discussion, on 14th March MPs debated at length the future of the UK's nuclear deterrent, and voted to endorse the Government's proposals, as set out in the December 2006 White Paper: The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm. 6994). We are now beginning detailed concept work on a new generation of submarines, undertaking the life extension of the Trident D5 missiles which they carry, and reducing the number of operationally available nuclear warheads.

    The Government first set out the timetable for these decisions in December 2003 and produced a detailed timeline in June last year. In line with that timetable, we published the White Paper on 4th December 2006, a copy of which is available on the MOD website at . This White Paper has been described by external commentators as the most comprehensive analysis of the UK's policy in this area that has ever been published. In reviewing it, the Defence Select Committee commended the Government for exposing its proposal to renew the nuclear deterrent to public debate and scrutiny, and approval in Parliament, in a way unlike any previous Government.

    Prior to the debate and vote in the House of Commons, the Government was very actively engaged in discussion in public and in Parliament. There was a full day debate in the House of Lords on 24th January. I gave a comprehensive speech at King's College, London. Lord Drayson and I, supported by officials, also gave detailed oral evidence to the Defence Select Committee, and a wide range of Government Ministers also debated the issue at a number of different public events. In addition to these events, Defence Ministers twice took part in televised debates with the leadership of CND, as well as in a further debate at the Royal United Services Institute. MPs of all parties were given access to Vanguard class submarines at the Faslane base. This process was long enough and substantive enough to provide all interested parties with an opportunity to debate the issues and put their views forward prior to the vote on 14th March.

    The Government remains fully committed to the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons. We believe the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) continues to offer the best hope of achieving this goal. Deciding to maintain our deterrent is completely consistent with the NPT and will not stop us playing a leading role in international efforts on non-proliferation and disarmament. Our weapons stockpile is the smallest of any recognised nuclear weapons State: less than 1% of the world total. We are the only recognised nuclear weapons State to have reduced our deterrent to a single system. As part of the decision Parliament endorsed on 14th March, we plan to reduce our stockpile even further-dismantling around 40 more warheads, or 20% of our remaining stockpile.

    We are leading the way on non-proliferation and disarmament. We led international efforts on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We continue to work hard for the immediate start of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. Kim Howells, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, recently attended the Geneva Conference on Disarmament to urge faster progress and re-energise multilateral negotiations.

    We realise that some would like us to go further than this, but it is not realistic to think that, if we decided to let our deterrent lapse, or even completely disarm unilaterally tomorrow, this would make any difference to the efforts of countries like Iran and North Korea to acquire a nuclear capability. We believe in total nuclear disarmament-but multilateral rather than unilateral disarmament. We face an increasingly uncertain world. Given that we cannot expect others' nuclear weapons to disappear for the foreseeable future, the question we face is: whether we should retain them, to deter others from using them against us. Are we prepared to tolerate a world in which countries like ours lay down their nuclear weapons first, leaving extremist or unstable countries to threaten the rest of the world or hold it to ransom? We believe that this is not a recipe for a stable and secure future.

    We believe the plans endorsed by Parliament strike the right balance between our commitment to a world in which there is no place for nuclear weapons, and our responsibilities to protect the current and future citizens of the UK.

19th April 2007


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Health on the Petition [13th December] from the residents of the Borough of Copeland and others throughout Cumbria for the retention of maternity services currently provided at the West Cumberland Hospital.

    The issues raised in the Petition are local matters and my Department will bring it to the attention of NHS North West.

23rd April 2007


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Health on the Petition [19th December] from the residents of Hitchin and Harpenden against planned changes to NHS facilities in Hertfordshire.

    The issues raised in the Petition are local matters and my Department will bring it to the attention of West Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust.

23rd April 2007


SUPPLEMENT TO THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS

Observations by the Secretary of State for Health on the Petition [28th March] from the residents of Otley and Wharfedale, the surrounding area, and others against the reduction in services at Wharfedale Hospital.

    The issues raised in the Petition are local matters and my Department will bring it to the attention of NHS Yorkshire and Humberside.

23rd April 2007



 
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Revised 27 April 2007