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That this House notes that the definition of previously developed land in draft Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) was first introduced in 1985, and that the proportion of residential development on previously developed residential land is now significantly lower than it was at that time; believes that more land needs to be made available for housing in future to meet rising demand and deliver sustainable, inclusive, mixed communities and environmental sustainability in towns and cities; further believes that local authorities need to bring
forward appropriate land with proper regard for sustainability, local environment and quality of design within existing communities as well as new developments; further notes that draft PPS3 includes tools and powers for local authorities to turn down inappropriate development in gardens as well as other areas; and commends the Governments policy to make better use of land for new homes by increasing the proportion of housing on previously developed land from 56 per cent. in 1997 to 73 per cent. in 2005 and provide greater protection for greenfield land as a result.
That the draft Human Tissue Act 2004 (Persons who Lack Capacity to Consent and Transplants) Regulations 2006, which were laid before this House on 24th May, be approved. [Liz Blackman.]
That this House takes note of the Unnumbered Letter from the Department for Education and Skills dated 9th May 2006 relating to the draft recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning; and supports the Governments view that the Recommendation will provide a useful, non-binding, common point of reference for Member States, either when choosing to undertake their own reforms of education and training systems or when learning about what has worked in other countries. [Liz Blackman.]
Mr. Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): I present a petition from my constituent, Mr. George Hamilton, of Tweedmouth. Mr. Hamilton was employed by Borders regional council as an assistant head teacher at Duns primary school for 12 years. Subsequent to that employment, in 1988 he applied for a teaching post elsewhere but was unsuccessful. Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 he has obtained the file on his case held by the local authority. It includes the reference sent by the assistant director of education to the head of the school to which he had applied, and other documents. He challenges and objects strongly to statements in those documents and to the terms of the reference.
Wherefore your Petitioner prays that your honourable House will urge the Government to introduce legislation requiring a former employer, named as a referee, to provide an accurate, balanced and fair reference;
That any allusion to the former employee must not be vague;
And that all statements, if challenged, must be substantiated by the former employees personal records, accurately and truthfully compiled.
And your Petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): It is fitting that I should present the following petition, given our debate on the need to stop the wholesale development of gardens. It rightly objects to such development, which causes irreparable damage to neighbourhood character and cohesion, and threatens urban biodiversity. I congratulate Ken Marshall and his immediate neighbours who have signed the petition on behalf of the community, which suffers from garden grab development.
To the House of Commons,
The Petition of the residents of Benfleet and others,
Declares that the petitioners oppose the proposed development of a new domestic dwelling adjacent to 4, Felstead Close, Benfleet, Essex, on the grounds that it would cause overcrowding in an already crowded cul-de-sac, health and safety hazards in terms of access for emergency services, a danger to the local Infant School, extra traffic, noise and loss of privacy and would be detrimental to local residents enjoyment of their homes.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons call upon the Government to refer the matter to Castle Point Borough Council, and urge the Council to reject the application.
And the petitioners remain, etc.
Stewart Hosie (Dundee, East) (SNP): I take enormous pleasure in presenting a petition on behalf of my constituent, Mr. D. Scott, from Dundee, who calls for the precautionary principle to apply to the prescription of Seroxat. He points out that many people who are prescribed Seroxat believe that they suffer side-effects, including aggression, fatigue, agitation and suicidal thoughts. Others suffer severe effects on withdrawal. He observes that a large amount of information on those side-effects is in the public domain, and he demonstrates the requirement for immediate action, including a moratorium on the prescribing of Seroxat to new patients.
Declares that there is deep concern about the side effects that many people believe that they have suffered from being prescribed the drug Seroxat.
Further declares that the Health Select Committee should carry out an investigation into the drug and its possible side effects.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge Her Majestys Government to place a moratorium on the prescription of Seroxat to new patients until a review has been carried out on the large body of evidence which now exists concerning the side effects of this drug.
Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab): After recent local elections, one of my constituents, Mr. Alec McFadden, was subject to a sudden violent attack at his home in front of his two young daughters. A stranger called at the house, and tried to barge his way in when the front door was opened. My constituent fought to keep him out while he was punched and hit on the face. His oldest daughter had the great presence of mind to call the police as the struggle continued at the front door. Thankfully, the police arrived at the scene within two minutes, but the man fled, leaving my constituent covered in blood. He had not been punched at all, but knifed about the head, arms and face. He had to attend the accident and emergency department at Arrowe Park hospital to receive treatment for his wounds. Goodness knows what would have happened if his assailant had got into the house.
Mr. McFadden is a well-known trade union activist who has just co-ordinated the campaign against the British National party in the north-west. His activism in the anti-fascist movement ensured that his name, home and workplace addresses and photograph feature on a nasty, extreme right website called Redwatch.
Ben Chapman (Wirral, South) (Lab): May I congratulate my hon. Friend on raising a matter that both affects a particular individual and constitutes a broad policy concern? Her constituent was targeted by that website, but the people of the Wirral generally are outraged by it.
That nasty, extreme right website is called Redwatch, and it carries hundreds of entries on anyone the authors believe should be intimidated or attacked. Indeed, there can be no other reason for providing that information, given the context in which it appears on the site.
the struggle against the spread of Marxist lies in the UK.
I understand this web site contains no threats nor is it intended that the material should be used for any unlawful activity?
The people targeted are routinely referred to on the website as scum and retards, and other epithets that I shall not sully the House by repeating. There appears to be a pattern of violence aimed at the individuals targeted by this website that cannot be simply a coincidence. The site appears to be registered to the Nazi group, Combat 18, and features advertisements for Aryan Nations and other extreme Nazi organisations. Much of the information on it appears to be sent in by BNP activists.
The anti-fascist organisation, Searchlight, investigated the site in 2003 and found a sinister discussion group attached to it called the mole intelligence bureau, which includes the following call to arms:
Redwatch has accumulated many names and addresses along with pictures of the targets, many of whom have had nothing done to them. Now is the time to start a proper campaign of violence and intimidation.
Rigorous action should be taken in respect of such incitement. The police have the power to monitor extremist chatrooms for the purposes of ensuring that criminality is not being organised. I certainly hope that that mole intelligence bureau and any of its successor chatrooms feature on the radar of the police in the monitoring role that they must perform to defend law-abiding citizens exercising their democratic rights.
Information from Searchlight details campaigns of intimidation, such as the firebombing of anti-fascist activists cars and frequent death threats. A TUC dossier contains other examples of victims who have suffered from having their details posted on this hate site. My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter) has suffered death threats and had his constituency office vandalised as a result of his opposition to the BNP and other far-right organisations, as is well known. Other MPs and elected councillors from all political parties have had similar experiences, as have journalists, teachers and trade unionists.
In 2004, following violent attacks on some of their members who also featured on that website, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Unison and the National Union of Teachers took a resolution to the TUC asking that the Government close down such sites. Since then, there has been a series of meetings at the Home Office and some parliamentary activity asking that action be taken to close the loophole that allows such internet-based incitement to continue seemingly unchecked.
Although the Government have appeared sympathetic, it does not seem that much of practical use has been achieved in the intervening two years. Sympathy and words of concern are of course welcome, but I believe that preventive action is now in the public interest and is long overdue. What is certain is that both the incitement to violence and the attacks are continuing, despite the fact that the existence of this website was exposed and caused widespread concern several years ago.
As a part of its response to the 2004 resolution, the TUC had a meeting with the then Home Secretary in March 2005, and he promised to consider what might be done to provide more protection from violent extremist websites. Although I understand that the
general election then intervened, the TUC has still received no response. I would be grateful if my hon. Friend the Minister took this opportunity to update the House on the issue of hate websites, which appear to be operating with impunity.
Martin Salter (Reading, West) (Lab): In studying Redwatch, my hon. Friend will have noticed that there is a link to a site operated by the same people called Noncewatchmonitoring the perverted scum who prey on our kids! It goes on to say:
Nonces deserve nothing more than a decent British noose around their necks and a long drop. Its time to fight back and scare...these evil bastards that are a serious threat to our communities.
Does my hon. Friend agree that, if we go down the road of adopting the ill-thought-out Sarahs law by putting into the public domain the names and addresses of everybody on the sex offenders register, the people behind Redwatch will use that as an opportunity to trigger violent vigilante action? Does she further agree that the Home Office needs to bear that in mind very carefully?
Angela Eagle: I certainly agree with the important point that my hon. Friend makes. In dealing with such important and emotive issues, which often elicit understandable anger and disgust, we must be careful to protect innocent victims as well as children.
When people are attacked for exercising their democratic right, it is important that the police realise that we are dealing with a threat to our democracy in which violent political intimidation plays a part, and that that is more serious than has been recognised. Will my hon. Friend the Minister agree to meet a delegation from the TUC and others to discuss how the threat can be dealt with adequately? Will he consider taking action to close down hate sites such as the one I have described?
In early 2004 Baroness Scotland replied to a question in the Lords from Lord Greaves. He was immediately featured on Redwatch for his trouble in raising the matter. Among other things, the Baroness emphasised the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and mentioned the Internet Watch Foundation. Government responses to previous parliamentary questions about Redwatch have also referred to protection from racial and religious harassment. That is right, but the protection offered in the harassment statute does not appear to fit well with incitement to what I call political hatred which leads to violent criminal acts. That is what this hate website appears to be co-ordinating.
Ms Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that if one of the explanations for the difficulty in taking legal action is that many such sites are based abroad, it is appropriate to see what can be done by working with international partners and other Governments to ensure that such activities are stopped, and that our own legislation should be reviewed? Internet crime of all sorts is becoming a greater threat to us all, and it is clear that racists and fascists are taking advantage of loopholes to operate their websites with impunity.
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