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Session 2006 - 07
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Supplement to the House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
6 July 2007



3rd July 2007

To the House of Commons.

The Petition of David Cain, Philip Redl 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 the commitment they have made to serve their country.

Therefore, your Petitioners request that the House of Commons urges the Government to adopt a policy of free postage to members of HM Armed Forces from family and friends in the UK in recognition of the contribution made by these brave men and women.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.



4th July 2007

To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.

The Humble Petition of residents of Christchurch, Dorset,


its opposition to the proposal by JobCentre Plus to close the office in Christchurch and to relocate the service to Bournemouth. The closure of this much valued locally accessible office which serves the people of Christchurch with dedication is unacceptable and will create unnecessary additional expense and inconvenience for some of the most vulnerable members of the local community.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urge the Government to intervene to prevent the closure.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.


Observations by the Secretary of State for Defence on the Petition [18th May] from Councillor John Freeman and others of like disposition for the protection of Seaford Drill Hall.

    The South East Reserve Forces and Cadets Association (SERFCA) own the site known as the Drill Hall on Broad Street, Seaford. Defence Estates (DE)-the organisation responsible for the defence estate-is advising them on how to rationalise their occupation of this building which is too large and costly to maintain.

    The building in question was built before the turn of the 20th century and is situated in the town centre. It comprises a two storey brick built façade with a large rear hall. The property is in very poor condition, particularly the rear hall which suffers from damp and rot. The building and hall is too big for SERFCA to use and the cadets cannot afford to continue to occupy this building which requires major repairs.

    DE has been working closely with stakeholders, including Lewis Council and Seaford Borough Council since early 2006 to produce the best solution for this sensitive site and is well aware of the local concerns about its future use. A meeting was held at the property with local town Councillors in May 2006 to discuss the matter and to agree a way ahead.

    DE has advised SERFCA that the optimum solution would be to sell the whole site and then require the buyer to provide modern purpose built accommodation for the cadets within the new redevelopment. An initial scheme was drawn up involving the demolition of the whole building. However, following representations made by local residents, this scheme was withdrawn and an alternative scheme produced, involving the retention of the front façade. The revised scheme is for seven flats and a new cadet hall. The planning application is shortly be submitted.

    There has been no community use of the hall for the past three years with the exception of a dog training class on one evening a week. The cadets use the hall very occasionally as part of their activities in the main building. The hall does not provide a vital meeting point for local community groups.

    Selling the building in its existing community use will not maximise the value of the site, which DE is obliged to do when selling surplus land, and is unlikely to provide enough funds to relocate the Army Cadets who prefer to be in the town centre.

    The property is not listed, nor is it in a conservation area. The proposed scheme will, if granted planning permission, result in a cost effective new cadet building together with seven flats in the centre of Seaford.

28th June 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Health on the Petition [13th June] from the University of Plymouth Students' Union for the abolition of prescription fees for students in England.

    The Government is undertaking a review of prescription charges for England and we have undertaken to report to Parliament by the Summer Recess 2007.

    The review is being undertaken on the basis that any changes to prescription charge exemptions, if implemented, are cost-neutral for the National Health Service.

    Prescription charges are expected to raise some £425 million for the NHS in 2007-08. This is an important contribution to NHS funding which would be lost if prescription charges were abolished. The total cost of administering the NHS Low Income scheme for England for 2007-08 is estimated to be £3.2 million. (This scheme also provides help with dental, optical and hospital travel costs).

    The current position is that students in England may be entitled to free prescriptions because they are in existing exemption groups, for example:

    • under 16

    • under 19 and receiving full-time education

    • pregnant or have a child under one

    • named on a medical exemption certificate

    • receiving child tax credit with gross annual income £15,050 or less.

    Otherwise they may receive help through the National Health Service Low Income scheme. This will either provide full help which includes free prescriptions or partial help which does not include free prescriptions. Any student who needs a lot of prescription items may benefit from purchasing a prescription prepayment certificate.

    It is for the Devolved Administrations to establish their own charging arrangements.

28th June 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the Petition [23rd May] from residents of Orchard Park Housing Estate, Kingston upon Hull for the redevelopment of the Orchard Park Shopping Centre.

    The Orchard Park Shopping Centre is situated on land owned by Kingston-upon-Hull City Council, who are also the local planning authority for the area in which this land is situated. Neither the current local plan for the area nor the emerging Development Framework shows any proposals for the redevelopment of the shopping centre. However, the City Council are currently consulting with the public on a Masterplan which would incorporate future improvements to the shopping centre and a new Neighbourhood Integrated Services Centre, which is to be provided for the area in partnership with the local Primary Care Trust.

    It would be for the Council as local planning authority to consider any planning applications submitted in respect of proposals for the refurbishment or redevelopment of the Shopping Centre and for them, both as landowner and as planning authority, to consider whether and to what extent such redevelopment might be necessary or desirable. It would also be for the City Council and/or any other bodies responsible for the management and maintenance of the current shopping centre to consider whether refurbishment should be considered and the extent to which any such refurbishment could be implemented without planning permission.

    In the event that redevelopment or refurbishment were to be proposed and planning applications in respect of such proposals submitted, the Secretary of State might have a role in determining either the applications or any subsequent related appeals. Equally, if the Council subsequently seek to incorporate within their emerging Development Framework proposals in respect of the shopping centre, the Secretary of State would be given an opportunity to comment upon such proposals at that time.

    Any comments or observations which the Secretary of State might offer on the propositions within this Petition or any steps she might take to promote works of the kind envisaged there could prejudice her statutory role in any future consideration of such proposals; and it would, therefore, not be appropriate for her to offer any such comments or observations or agree to take such steps as are sought by the Petitioners.

2nd July 2007


Observations by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the Petition [1st May] from residents of Chelsworth Drive and Tuam Drive in the London Borough of Greenwich for legislation to require the clearance of Japanese knotweed.

    Legislative framework in relation to Japanese knotweed.

    Where the land is bona vacantia, the Treasury Solicitor acts as the land owner, on behalf of the Crown. Apart from an action in tort (to which the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 applies), the law in relation to Japanese knotweed growing on bona vacantia land is broadly the same as for knotweed on private land. The one difference is that in the case of bona vacantia (or any Crown) land, while the local authority could serve a notice under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act, it must obtain the permission of the Crown before exercising the default power under Section 219 of the Act to enter the land to carry out work.

    As set out in the draft Invasive Non-native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain, Government will undertake work to review legislation relating to non-native species, by building on the research done to date and the recommendations made as part of that process. The position of the Crown generally (and not just in relation to bona vacantia land) will be considered appropriately in the context of that process.

    The Government is committed to applying legislation appropriately and proportionately in accordance with the principles of Better Regulation.

3rd July 2007

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