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House of Commons
Session 2005 - 06
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Supplement to the House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
9 November 2006



6th November 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of Citizens of Buckinghamshire and others,

Declares that expansion plans for any community must be supported by improvements to health services.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Health to provide reassurances that the health infrastructure can cope and detail what improvements are planned to support Aylesbury Vale's growth plan.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.



7th November 2006

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of residents of King's Lynn, West Norfolk and other parts of East Anglia,

Declares that unacceptable nuisance is caused by fireworks.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons brings in legislation to ban the retail sale of fireworks

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


Observations by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the Petitions [9th October, 18th October [2 Petitions] and 24th October] from users of Cuddington Post Office, in Cheshire; residents of Torridge and West Devon; Mr Stan White and other customers of Rothwell Post Office; and users of Post Office Card Accounts against changes to the Post Office Card Account.

    People have signed this and similar Petitions because they want to be able to use easy-to-operate accounts at the Post Office. They can do that now, and will be able to do so in the future.

    The existing Post Office card account contract ends in March 2010 as we have always made clear.

    Some customers may think that the Post Office card account is the only account which can be used at post office branches. Around 25 or so different bank accounts can be accessed at post office branches now. In addition Post Office Ltd has already introduced one new savings account, and is developing other savings and banking products which will be more suitable for many of its customers than the Post Office card account and which offer more features. These are expected to be introduced in the near future. The full range of accounts which will be available beyond 2010 is not yet settled. Discussions between the Government and Post Office Ltd are continuing.

    Things that people like about the Post Office card account also apply to basic bank accounts. There is no real difference in accessing money at the post office via a bank account compared to a Post Office card account. Customers can collect the same money, on the same day, at the post office, just as they have been with the Post Office card account.

    We are committed to a national network of post offices which will allow customers to collect their benefit or pension there if they wish. If Post Office card account customers use a bank account (or a new post office product) at the post office, then Post Office Ltd also receives a payment for providing this service.

    There are around 20 million people who could access their bank account at a Post Office, but only around 10 per cent (2 million) per week actually do so. This is an untapped market which could bring vital new income into post office branches. DWP is working with Post Office Ltd to support it in its efforts to increase this market.

    Government fully appreciates the concerns being raised over the future of the Post Office network. We know that Post Offices are an important part of British life, particularly in rural and deprived urban areas. This is why we have made investment of more than 2billion since 1999, and we will continue to support the national network.

6th November 2006


Observations by the Secretary of State for Transport on the Petition [24th October] from the people of Worsley, Boothstown and Ellenbrook for the reinstatement of bus services.

    The Government is committed to improving bus services and has provided substantial investment to help achieve this. Total local and central government support for bus services has more than doubled since 1997 and is now over 2 billion annually.

    But while in some places bus services are thriving because they are delivering the kind of service that passengers expect, in too many parts of the country the bus services are not attracting as many passengers as they should. We are currently examining the scope for giving those areas that want them the necessary powers to provide better services and improving the partnership arrangements between operators and local authorities.

    The provision of local bus services outside London is a matter for bus operators and local authorities. The majority are provided on a commercial basis. Licensed operators may register the particulars of any services they can operate without subsidy. Local authorities may subsidise additional services that are not provided commercially and which they consider socially necessary. They frequently intervene to replace commercial services that have been withdrawn by operators. It is essentially a matter for individual authorities to decide which services are most appropriate for support in their respective areas.

    It is understood that First Group, the local operator has made a number of network changes in July 2006. They have introduced a frequent interval service 37, with investment in new super low floor vehicles, and marketing to increase bus use on this corridor. As part of these changes it also withdrew some local services. The Government recognises that the withdrawal of the services in questions has caused concern. However as outlined above, decisions on which local bus services to operate are essentially a matter for the operator, with individual local authorities able to subsidise other services based on local circumstances and priorities. The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority (GMPTE) agreed to fund an evening and Sunday 484 bus service (Hope Hospital - Eccles - Swinton).

    I am advised that there has been consultation and partnership between the operator and Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority/Executive (GMPTA/E) before, during and after changes to the local bus services.

    Prior to the changes made in July 2006, First Group consulted with GMPTE regarding changes to their commercial services and as a result of these consultations some alterations were made to their proposed network changes.

    Information about the changes was also provided to GMPTA and other local councillors and officers and briefing meetings were arranged for local councillors in Salford and Wigan with meetings held on 12th July 2006 and 20th July 2006 respectively.

    We understand that the operator continues to monitor the situation and is reporting that while there are people who have suffered from deterioration in service, on balance there are a greater number of people who have benefited from a service improvement.

    A post implementation review meeting is planned to take place with Salford Councillors on 16th November 2006. A meeting is to be held before that date with GMPTE and GMPTA officers to share information on complaints received and to examine whether there are any amendments to the current network which appear sensible to both parties.

    I will ensure these observations are bought to the attention of GMPTE once published.

7th November 2006

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Revised 9 November 2006