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



29th March 2007

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of David Cain, residents of Essex, Dorset and others,

Declares that the cost of sending parcels and letters to members of HM Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan is inequitable in relation to the nature of their work and to the commitment they have made to serve their country.

The Petitioners therefore implore the Government to adopt a policy of free postage to members of HM Armed Forces for families and friends in the UK in recognition of the contribution made by these brave men and women.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.



17th April 2007

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of residents of Nottingham and others,

Declares that there is a public duty to restore the pension entitlements of the 85,000 pensioners whose lifetime contributions disappeared in collapsed pension schemes. The Ombudsman's report, Trusting in the Pension Promise, concluded that successive Governments ignored warnings that the Minimum Funding Requirement did not adequately protect workers' pensions. The Petitioners believe that Government has to accept responsibility for ignoring these warnings and concealing them from the public.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons press the Government to introduce legislation restoring full pension entitlements to those who have lost their pensions.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


Observations by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the Petition [20th November] from the residents of Birmingham Road, Aldridge for stronger protection for gardens in planning law.

    The Government published on 29th November 2006 Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) Housing, which set out a new national planning policy framework for delivering its housing objectives, replacing previous planning policy guidance set out in Planning Policy Guidance note 3 (PPG3).

    PPS3 gives local planning authorities greater flexibility around the location and kind of housing they wish to see in their areas and strengthens the tools that local planning authorities already had under previous policy in PPG3 to turn down inappropriate development on garden land. They can set separate targets for different kinds of brownfield land if they need to do that. For example, they could choose as a matter of policy to concentrate development on available vacant or derelict rather than on garden land. PPS3 also gives them greater flexibility to address concerns around development on garden land in areas where it is a problem. The new policy also places a much stronger emphasis on the quality of residential design and layout, making clear that design which is inappropriate in its context, or which fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions, should not be accepted. Local planning authorities also need to assess the extent to which new housing development provides, or enables access to, community green space and open space, as well as private outdoor areas such as gardens.

    PPS3 states in clear terms that there is no presumption that land is suitable for housing simply because it is brownfield, stressing the need for sites to be suitable for housing development, that are in suitable locations, and which will contribute to the creation of sustainable, mixed communities.

16th April 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the Petition [20th February] from the residents of Oxfordshire against the current Council Tax Bands allocated to Guardian Court in Banbury.

    Notes that the VOA has an ongoing statutory duty to ensure that properties are in the correct band, and will amend bandings of individual properties where evidence comes to light that these are incorrect.

    Further notes that council tax payers have a right of appeal to a Valuation Tribunal for the first six months from the date they become the taxpayer, and in limited circumstances thereafter, if they believe their property is in the wrong band.

    Believes that the banding system properly allows for an appropriate degree of flexibility without creating unfairness and rejects the idea that Valuation Tribunals should be able to vary the council tax payable for properties within the same band.

16th April 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the Petition [10th July 2006, in the last Session of Parliament] from residents of Willalla House, Canvey Island, Essex, for a full time warden at Willalla House.

    Funding for the provision of wardens for sheltered accommodation can be provided through the Supporting People programme.

    This is a programme to help vulnerable people improve or maintain their ability to live independently through the provision of housing-related support. Housing related support is specifically linked to helping a person either stay in their own home or move towards having their own home. This includes long-term support for people, such as older people, who need assistance and reassurance in living independently - e.g. community alarm and/or warden services.

    Local Authorities are paid a grant under section 93 of the Local Government Act 2000. The grant is subject to conditions which are reviewed annually. These make it clear that the grant should only be used to fund housing-related support, which includes the provision of wardens. Local Authorities should also keep under review all their Supporting People services and consult service users as part of that process.

    Local authorities determine their priorities for Supporting People funding locally based on the needs and priorities identified in their 5 year Supporting People Strategy.

    Essex County Council are the Supporting People authority for the Castle Point area and are therefore responsible for decisions on whether to fund services such as the provision of a warden for Willalla House through the programme.

    The residents of Willalla House may therefore wish to suggest to Castle Point that they submit an application for Supporting People funding to Essex County for the provision of a warden.

    If residents are unhappy with the conduct of either Castle Point Borough Council or Essex County Council in respect of the failure to supply the services they require they can use the formal complaints procedures operated by those local authorities.

    The Government has no power to compel Castle Point Borough Council to appoint a full time warden to Willalla House.

16th April 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs on the Petition [21st March] from the Zacchaeus Trust 2000 against bailiffs' powers to force entry.

    The Government amendment referred to by the Petitioners introduced what was then New Clause 42 into the Domestic Violence Crimes and Victims Bill (and later became section 27 of the Domestic Violence Crimes and Victims Act 2004).

    The clause concerned inserted new provisions at section 125BA of and Schedule 4A to the Magistrates Courts Act 1980. These new provisions gave powers to civilian enforcement officers and approved enforcement agencies to use reasonable force to enter and search premises, without the need for further prior judicial authority before doing so, for the purposes of enforcing warrants of arrest, committal, detention and distress issued against those who have defaulted on payment of criminal fines imposed by the magistrates' courts.

    Pursuant to the common law, bailiffs have had for many years rights to force entry into certain premises in particular circumstances.

    Furthermore, Semayne's Case of 1604, referred to by the Petitioners, did not rule that forced entry without prior judicial authority into domestic premises was unlawful in all circumstances. For example, it ruled that forced entry into premises without prior judicial authority was lawful where goods had been deliberately moved to those premises to avoid seizure. It was also lawful, and currently remains lawful, to enter premises where all that is required to effect entry to those premises is to push against an open door, lift a latch, turn a key or slide a bolt. Prior permission of the occupant is not required before entry may be effected in those circumstances.

    The amendment was debated fully at Committee Stage of the Bill in the House of Commons, during both the morning and afternoon sessions on 6 July 2004 and was agreed unanimously. There was further opportunity for this amendment to be raised and debated during both the Report Stage in the House of Commons on 27/10/04, and on the Bill's return to the Lords for consideration of Commons amendments on 2/11/04. The issue was not raised in the House of Commons at Report Stage, and after a brief debate the amendment was unanimously accepted in the House of Lords.

    The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill now before the House, and its underlying regulations, will clarify the confusion and inconsistencies that have arisen over many years as to what is and is not regarded as lawful entry. For example currently different types of bailiff may have different powers of entry for different types of debt, including the power to effect entry through windows or skylights, or even, in the case of landlords, to lift the floorboards of premises above to gain access to premises below. It will codify in one place the powers of entry, including re-entry and forced entry, for all types of enforcement agent and for all types of debt and clarify once and for all that entry to domestic premises will only be by normal methods of entry i.e. doors and French windows.

18th April 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the Petition [27th February] from 100 residents of Ashby-de-la-Zouch and nearby areas for the introduction of a requirement for companies registered in the UK to calculate and declare their carbon emissions to be included in any Climate Change Bill.

    We agree that climate change is one of the toughest development challenges we are facing, and the DfID White Paper, 'Making Governance Work for the Poor', recognised that it is the biggest long-term threat to reducing poverty. We are working to implement the White Paper commitments on three main fronts: work for a global agreement, including helping developing countries prepare for international negotiations; assisting developing countries to adopt clean energy technologies; and helping developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Chancellor recently announced in the budget an 800m International Environmental Transformation Fund for the purposes of reducing poverty through environmental management and helping developing countries respond to climate change, which will contribute to delivering this agenda.

    Carbon emissions associated with the production of goods are reported in the greenhouse gas inventory of the country in which the goods are produced. Similarly there is no transfer of emissions to the UK when goods are imported. The UK is responsible for, and reports in its greenhouse gas emissions inventory, emissions of carbon dioxide associated with the production of goods that are subsequently exported by the UK, and this accounts for the 2 percent figure frequently cited. For the UK Government to also report emissions of UK company operations overseas would be double counting for the purposes of the GHG inventory.

    The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) annual information request issued to leading companies globally is supported by the largest institutional investor collaboration ($35 trillion in assets) seeking climate related information from companies. The results from 2006 CDP information request to FTSE 350 showed that—

  • 83% of FTSE100 companies responded

  • 55% of the FTSE100 provided quantified emissions data, and;

  • 24% provided emissions data that met the reporting requirement on 'direct' GHG emissions according to Scope 1 of the GHG protocol.

  • 36% of FTSE 250 companies responded,

  • 16% of FTSE 250 provided quantified GHG emissions data

  • 5% provided emissions data that met Scope 1 of GHG protocol.

    2006 was the first year the FTSE250 was sent the information request. With support from Defra, the information request was once again sent to the FTSE350 in February 2007. Results are due in September 2007.

    The Government recognises the need of stakeholders, and in particular investors, to have access to standardised information on company-wide GHG emissions, as quantified emissions data reported by companies rarely covers the entirety of an organisations operations.

    The absence of a generally accepted carbon disclosure standard, has meant comparative analysis by the investment research community is limited and hinders the assessment of relevant, carbon-related risks by shareholders and corporate managers. The Government is currently considering options to increase the quality of disclosure to an internationally agreed framework, that will see companies disclose information on both their 'direct' and 'indirect' emissions, including operations overseas.

16th April 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Transport on the Petition [27th March] from residents of Dunstable and others for legislation to restrict the use of mini-motorbikes and unregistered off-road bikes in uncontrolled areas.

    The anti-social use of mini-motos and unregistered off-road motorbikes is a significant issue for many people. The Government is aware of these concerns and is committed to ensuring that the problem can be tackled effectively.

    We are currently considering the large number of issues that have been raised by a recent Private Members' Bill (the Off-road Vehicles Registration Bill) that calls for all off-road motorcycles to be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). These issues need to be fully explored to ensure that we achieve the aim that we all share - ensuring that mini-motos and other off-road motorcycles are used responsibly and legally. We will set out our response to the Bill and its proposals at Committee stage.

    It will be for Parliament to consider the arguments for and against the Off-road Vehicles Registration Bill. It will need to examine whether the existing legislation is sufficient and whether mandatory registration could place an additional burden on law-abiding users of off-road vehicles, amongst other issues.

16th April 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Transport on the Petition [21st March] from residents of Higham Ferrers, Rushden and surrounding areas for measures to alleviate traffic congestion at the Chowns Mill interchange.

    The A45 from Junction 15 of the M1 to Junction 13 of the A14 trunk road is 39 km long and is a dual 2 lane carriageway, except for 8 km of single carriageway at the Thrapston end and 5.5km of dual 3 lane carriageway at Northampton. The route provides bypasses to Northampton, Wellingborough and Rushden. The A6 Rushden and Higham Ferrers Bypass, for which Northamptonshire County Council is the highway authority, was opened in August 2003 and enters directly onto the Chowns Mill Roundabout.

    The A43/A45 Route Management Strategy (RMS) was finalised in August 2004 and recommended that, in the long term, the A45/A6 Chowns Mill Junction should be improved to grade-separated standard, along with other at-grade junctions along the A45 corridor.

    The A45 is a route now classified as one of 'regional' rather than 'national' importance and this potential grade-separation scheme was considered by the East Midlands Regional Assembly (EMRA), alongside other potential post 2007/2008 transport investment schemes within the region. EMRA decided not to prioritise any major development at Chowns Mill Roundabout, as such an improvement was not measured as a transport investment priority for the East Midlands in the period up to 2015/2016.

    The RMS, however, also recommended the provision of adequate signing and road markings along the length of the route. In February 2006 changes to the road markings and signs on the approaches to the roundabout were implemented, in an effort to address driver conflict and traffic flow problems.

    Although it is felt that these improvements have assisted in guiding traffic through the roundabout, there are still reported problems, particularly for drivers approaching the roundabout southwards along the A6 County Road and wishing to travel to Higham Ferrers. Accident records for the roundabout have been reviewed and show that, in the period between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2006, there have been 4 slight Personal Injury Accidents (PIA).

    Meetings have been held between the Highways Agency and officers of Northamptonshire County Council, the Local Highway Authority for the non-trunk road connections to the roundabout, in order to consider other possible short-term improvements. The County have agreed to review the road markings and signing on the southbound approach and also to make any recommendations for complementary modifications to the circulatory carriageway markings, which would be carried out by the Agency if accepted.

    Enquiries made by the County regarding reported problems on the roundabout have failed to identify precisely where conflicts occur. It is considered that this is attributable to the fact that at peak periods this five-leg roundabout is struggling to cope with the volume and pattern of traffic using it.

    It is our intention to renew the road markings on the roundabout within the next few months, subject to avoiding conflict with any other work which may be taking place on the network, and to incorporate any agreed modifications at that time.

    A scheme is currently being designed for a Non Motorised User footbridge, following recommendations of the RMS, and work is anticipated to start in 2009/10, subject to completion of statutory procedures and available funding.

    The Highways Agency has reviewed its Local Network Management Scheme study programme and included a junction capacity review of Chowns Mill junction in 2007/2008. This will investigate what interim measures can be introduced, short of a grade separation, to alleviate the current operational problems at the Chowns Mill Interchange.

16th April 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Transport on the Petition [15th March] from residents of Port Solent, Portsmouth for the construction of acoustic barriers alongside the M27 in the local area.

    Port Solent is a residential development outside Portsmouth, close to Junction 12 of the M27.This section of the M27 was opened to traffic in 1976 and has not been widened since. The early phases of the Port Solent Development were granted planning permission between 1986 and 1989 and Portsmouth City Council has advised that the earlier permissions appear to have included a condition requiring details of the noise insulating measures to be submitted and implemented before first occupation (these were likely to be for acoustic double glazing). A later phase, granted planning permission in 1989, included a condition more specifically requiring a scheme for protecting the houses from M27 noise by the installation of double glazing and use of acoustic air bricks or passive ventilation to habitable rooms facing the motorway.

    Those purchasing properties in the Port Solent development would have bought in the full knowledge of the proximity to the motorway. The Port Solent resident's Association has been corresponding with both its local Member of Parliament and the Highways Agency directly, for several years, asking the Agency to mitigate against motorway noise.

    The Highways Agency has explained that strict criteria have been set in order to prioritise locations with pressing noise problems but that, unfortunately, this section of the M27 did not meet the qualifying criteria. We therefore have no current proposals to install an acoustic barrier at this location.

    The most effective solution to reduce noise in the area is to resurface the road in lower noise surfacing but, as the carriageway is in a satisfactory condition, we have no current plans for resurfacing within the next 5 year programme.

    Most recently, the Residents association has expressed concern about the impact of the climbing lane scheme on the M27 between Junctions 11 and 12 currently due to commence in early 2008. Modelled traffic flows have demonstrated that the effects of this scheme on traffic speeds near Port Solent are limited to a few hours during the year when flows are approaching capacity. It is considered that the likelihood of these critical hours occurring over a significant period within a given 18 hour assessment period is very low. The scheme will be achieved wholly within the existing highway boundary, minimising environmental impacts and requiring no additional land.

    The works for this scheme are well beyond 300 metres from Port Solent, traffic will not move closer to the development and no significant impacts are anticipated.

    The full width of the carriageway over the length of the climbing lane will be surfaced with quieter surfacing to mitigate the impact of the widening. This will not extend to the Port Solent area, which is outside the scope of the scheme.

    The Minister of State for Transport most recently wrote to Sarah McCarthy-Fry in July 2006, confirming the Port Solent location alongside the M27 does not meet the sift criteria and it has not been possible to consider it as a priority for action to reduce noise level.

16th April 2007

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