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9.15 pm

Jim Fitzpatrick: I am most grateful to hon. Members for their views on this new Commission approach to maritime development policy. We have had some good contributions to the discussion over the past hour or so.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) for his kind words and for the common ground between us. Indeed, there has been common ground between Members from virtually all parts of the House, but then, as the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael) said, that was not going to be difficult given the lack of specifics. However, there was common ground notwithstanding the comments that were made earlier.

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The hon. Member for Canterbury raised several key points, the most important of which was about subsidiarity. I can reassure him that there is no shipping organisation in which the individual voices of maritime nations could be more effectively replaced than the European Union. I do not think that that could be clearer.

The hon. Gentleman raised the question of the tonnage tax, as did the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner), and asked for greater clarification. The Government welcomed the European Commission’s decision to consult all member states on issues relating to state aid guidelines on maritime transport. We are working with like-minded member states to ensure that that is a meaningful exercise. In the light of the Commission’s decision, this is an important opportunity. We have withdrawn our re-notification and will not proceed with the legislation to amend tonnage tax rules, which would have reduced the effectiveness and attractiveness of the tonnage tax, until the Commission has completed its consultation with member states.

The Government are grateful for the fruitful dialogue with the UK shipping industry and will continue this engagement. All sides acknowledge the important role that tonnage tax has played in underpinning the success of the shipping industry and remain committed to the principles that the UK tonnage tax represents.

The new Chairman of the Transport Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman), raised the question of EU maritime space without barriers and the security implications. Ostensibly, this is a Customs admin simplification proposal, but more detail will be needed and the Government will look at all the implications of the proposal when it comes forward.

My hon. Friend asked about clusters, which were also mentioned by the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty). In England, a number of regional development agencies have already established organisations in their regions to bring together maritime manufacturing interests, such as Marine South West, Marine South East and the Midland Marine Alliance. The Government fully support those initiatives and we look forward to working with the European Commission to ensure that whatever proposals finally emerge will add value to the current arrangements.

My hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Ms Clark) raised the issue of support for fishermen in local communities. The common fisheries policy will remain the key measure for fisheries management decisions across the EU.

You must forgive me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I have run out of time. I will write to hon. Members about the issues that they have raised. I endorse the Government’s approach to these documents.

Question put and agreed to.


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Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

Building Societies

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

Consumer Protection

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

Northern Ireland

The House divided: Ayes 279, Noes 6.
Division No. 208]
[9.19 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, Danny
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barrett, John
Battle, rh John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank

Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lammy, Mr. David
Laws, Mr. David
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mann, John
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mudie, Mr. George
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Norris, Dan
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick

Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Michael Foster and
Mr. Sadiq Khan

Bone, Mr. Peter
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Spink, Bob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Tellers for the Noes:

Dr. William McCrea and
Mr. Gregory Campbell
Question accordingly agreed to.
3 Jun 2008 : Column 737

3 Jun 2008 : Column 738

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

Northern Ireland

Question agreed to.


Southend Driving Test Centre

9.34 pm

James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend, East) (Con): I wish to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Southend concerning the proposed closure of Southend driving test centre. The petition has attracted more than 3,000 signatures since February and was co-ordinated by Southend and District Driving Instructors Association. It reads:

3 Jun 2008 : Column 739


Post Office Closures (Ceredigion)

9.35 pm

Mark Williams (Ceredigion) (LD): I wish to present a petition with the signatures of just over 3,000 people from across the Ceredigion constituency representing 14 rural communities which, in our view, will be adversely affected by the Post Office’s network change programme. Those 14 post offices will know their fate shortly, and I hope that the Post Office and the Government will take note of the strength of feeling on this issue. The petition states:


3 Jun 2008 : Column 740

Southend Driving Test Centre

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Ms Diana R. Johnson.]

9.36 pm

James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend, East) (Con): I am most grateful for the opportunity to raise the issue of the Driving Standard Agency’s proposed closure of Southend driving test centre, to which 3,000 people have objected in the petition that I presented to the House a few moments ago. It is a serious subject for all people in Southend who are considering taking their test or have children who are likely to want to take their test in the Southend area.

The proposed closure of a driving test centre is not a new topic in this House. On 21 May, my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Liddell-Grainger) held a Westminster Hall debate about the proposed closure of a test centre in his constituency, and on 13 May my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Dr. Murrison) joined a debate on the closure of a test centre in his area. Those changes relate to an European Union directive coming into effect in September, which will change the content of motorcycle tests across the EU by introducing certain manoeuvres that require off-road testing facilities. I do not intend to dwell on the merits of that, but it is a matter of fact that that has happened. Southend driving test centre is situated on Prittlewell chase, deep within the heart of Southend, and has no space for such a facility. The Driving Standards Agency has therefore proposed that all bike and car test operations be moved to a new so-called multi-purpose test centre in Basildon, some 14 miles away from Southend. That does not sound like a long distance, but in fact it can be a 45-minute to one-hour trip.

My feeling and that of several colleagues is that one size does not fit all, and that the Government are imposing a solution on Southend that does not fit. My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess) and I have been campaigning against such a move. My hon. Friend has raised this on the Floor of the House and in written questions to the Minister, and I am most grateful for that. My close parliamentary neighbour and hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) has also raised it in his constituency and in a number of other ways. Although the test centre is situated in the constituency of Rochford and Southend, East, which I have the pleasure to represent, it is very close to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West; in fact, if it were another 100 yd further up the road, it would be in his constituency. Given the additional time that has been created for this important debate, I hope that both of my hon. Friends will be able to catch your eye later on in the debate, Madam Deputy Speaker.

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