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Northern Ireland

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9)(European Standing Committees),

Maritime Transport Security

Question agreed to.




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New Town

10.3 pm

Mrs. Angela Browning (Tiverton and Honiton): In 1997, I gave evidence at the examination in public in the city of Exeter on behalf of my constituents opposed to the building of a new town in the east Devon part of my constituency.

Since that time, the district council and many constituents have tried to make their views known. Although they agree that there should be some building—perhaps a small settlement—a whole new town is not in the local interest.

I am pleased that at the recent, new examination in public the chairman revisited the question of whether such a town was needed at all—something that we all welcome. I am pleased to present to the House the petition of Councillor Ruth Burrow and more than 15,000 residents of east Devon.

The petition declares:

To lie upon the Table.

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Probate Services

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Gillian Merron.]

10.5 pm

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend): I raise an issue this evening about what I admit I thought was an entirely natural view of one of my constituents. As he had been appointed with enduring power of attorney over his aunt's financial affairs, he thought he would automatically become the administrator of the estate when she died, as there was no will. He found that he did not have that right, so I should like to consider that issue, as well as how the probate office deals with approaches for the administration of estates. I have already corresponded with the then Lord Chancellor's Department about the issue.

The story starts on 24 February 2000, when one of my constituents, John Weaver, was appointed with enduring power of attorney for his aunt, Enid Jenkins. In September 2000, Enid Jenkins was admitted from hospital to Darren Court residential home in Baglan, Port Talbot, run by David Weaver, her nephew, and an elder cousin of John Weaver. Within weeks, on 19 November 2000, a letter, purportedly signed by Enid Jenkins, claimed that she had never asked anyone to look after her financial affairs and did not want John Weaver to look after them. On 10 January 2002, she had purportedly signed another letter, claiming that John Weaver had got her to sign a form when she was most unwell—in fact, so unwell that she could not remember being in hospital, let alone signing his form. It was her intention to attend the Court of Protection hearing in February.

On 8 February 2001, the Court of Protection hearing took place. By 1 March, the Court of Protection confirmed that John Weaver was the person who had enduring power of attorney and that everything had been done properly. Unfortunately and sadly, a couple of days later, on 3 March, Enid Jenkins died. On 6 March, John Weaver registered her death and went about arranging the funeral. On 14 March, he received a letter from another relative informing him that David Weaver had become the administrator of their aunt's estate after applying to the probate office. David Weaver was not the closest relative of Enid Jenkins, and I should like to know whether it is on record that the eldest cousin ceded his right to be the administrator of the estate.

Two years and six months later, despite the house of the late Enid Jenkins being sold more than 14 months ago, the accounts of the estate have not been settled and published. Moreover, the house was sold by the administrator, David Weaver, to the eldest cousin who had given up his right to be administrator, either officially or otherwise: he certainly did not take up that right. In January and February of this year, I wrote to David Weaver on behalf of John Weaver, seeking information about the estate, but I did not even get the courtesy of an acknowledgement, let alone an answer to any of the questions.

John Weaver feels very strongly that, as his aunt, Enid Jenkins, had given him the power to look after her financial affairs when she was alive, it would have been natural for him to become the administrator of her

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estate when a will could not be found. It is particularly galling to my constituent that the person who was the prime mover in the effort to get him removed from his power of attorney on behalf of Enid Jenkins should, in effect, have taken over that role on her death by becoming the administrator of the estate.

The issue is simple. I share my constituent's concern about these issues, and I look forward to my hon. Friend's response as to why the apparently natural move from power of attorney to administrator of the estate does not take place. I would also be interested to know exactly what steps were taken to make sure that David Weaver was in fact the proper person to be the administrator of the estate, given that he was not the closest relative of Enid Jenkins. I look forward to my hon. Friend's reply.

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