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My right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border made his customary impassioned plea for
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the economy of Cumbria, with particular reference to the plight of dairy farmers, and the interests of his constituents and others in Cumbria in relation to the continuation of the nuclear power plant in Cumbria and the value of Sellafield to the economy.

The hon. Member for North Swindon who, I am afraid, also contributed to a recess Adjournment debate and is not in his place at the end of the debate, addressed an aspect of the economy—the need to ensure that we apply science to improve our competitiveness. His point about the low numbers taking maths post-16 was well made.

Another spirited performance came from my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans), who promoted the interests of his constituents in relation to the A59, and also promoted the future of the joint strike fighter aircraft.

The hon. Member for Weaver Vale raised four separate matters in his contribution. He spoke about the impact on the health of those living where buildings have been built on landfill sites, which is a concern in my constituency where development is proposed on landfill sites. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the problems of wheel clamping which, sadly, have not gone away as a result of the Government’s Act. As he noted, there is a still a lack of information for people about their own position. He also referred to the lack of access to the court register, a valid point that I hope the Deputy Leader of the House will take up. The hon. Member for North Swindon has come into the Chamber. I therefore apologise for my previous remark. Sadly, he missed what I said about him in other respects, but it is good of him to turn up eventually. The hon. Member for Weaver Vale also spoke about the hopes of the Daresbury research centre for the future work there. I know the impact that the decision about the location of the diamond synchrotron in Oxfordshire had on his constituency, so I wish him the best in his campaign.

The hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Alison Seabeck) spoke with passion about her constituent caught up in the confusion of our citizenship laws, and also raised the need for funding for research on aspects of obesity. The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) spoke about the changes that have taken place in regiments in Northern Ireland, and rightly paid tribute to the commitment and gallantry with which members of those regiments serve in our armed forces. The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam mentioned temporary event notices. We raised the issue with the Government on many occasions last year. They are the worst of all worlds. Not enough TENs are issued for most village halls, churches and schools to be able to do what they want to do, yet a loophole enables pubs to get round the conditions.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (John Barrett) was right to raise the issue of the collapse of the world trade talks, which should be of concern to us all, particularly those campaigning for the interests of developing countries, and the poor in those countries. He also referred to the Government’s action on the CSA. Sadly, it is rather less action than the Government were spinning in their headlines yesterday, and I fear that many families will be disappointed.

My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) gave his usual
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thoughtful contribution, highlighting an issue that will be of real concern in future—endowment shortages. He also spoke, as he has done on other occasions, about the need for parents to have the right to choose where their children with special needs should be educated. I was interested in his index of family cohesion. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Pelling) spoke up for a fair deal for Croydon.

Throughout, a wide range of concerns have been raised; more than I have ever heard raised in a recess Adjournment debate before. I hope that the Government will listen seriously to the points and recognise the common thread that has run through so many of the contributions. The Government are wasting so much of our taxpayers’ money and people sadly feel powerless as the Government ignore local views and fail to understand the impact that is caused by their policies.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I wish you and all right hon. and hon. Members a very happy summer recess.

6.51 pm

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Nigel Griffiths): I have had the pleasure of listening to all 27 contributions in the debate and I shall respond to as many as I can, note the comments that I do not respond to on the Floor of the House, and draw them, where appropriate, to the responsible Minister’s attention.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) for raising the hospital question and highlighting the £500 million of additional expenditure that is going in, and I am sure that his neighbour and colleague, the Secretary of State for Health, will be aware of the issues that he has raised. In respect of his constituent whose conviction was quashed, I hope that he is seeking a meeting with the Minister. I understand that he has already raised the matter. I shall certainly make inquiries about the outcome of that. In respect of the compensation to a UK citizen who has business interests in the Lebanon, again I will ensure that his concerns are noted.

There were widespread concerns throughout the House about what is happening in Lebanon. The Foreign Secretary and the Minister for the Middle East were at the Dispatch Box earlier today and explained our concerns unequivocally. The route that Israel has embarked on is folly in failing to target properly those Hezbollah bases, missiles and training camps, and by causing unnecessary suffering to civilians, including children, and also, as the Minister said earlier, unnecessary damage to the infrastructure that does not appear to be connected to the terrorist activities. I do not believe that Israel has done itself a good service in its reaction. Indeed, it has probably lost friends. Like all hon. Members, I unreservedly condemn Hezbollah. Its actions have been evil. To send off missiles into civilian populations indiscriminately by way of retaliation beggars belief, is completely unjustifiable and is provoking Israel beyond endurance.

The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) raised a number of issues, including temporary event notices. I and the Government expect
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the local authorities responsible for licensing to use their powers to the maximum to ensure that where the lives of local residents are being disrupted, they take action, whether through noise abatement enforcement or other powers. There are powers to close premises where temporary events are taking place and where disorder and public nuisance issues arise.

My hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Mr. Hall) mentioned an issue that affects his constituents and others—the possible previous contamination of sites and the right of people to make what he called an informed choice. I shall certainly ensure that his message is reinforced with my ministerial colleagues. He mentioned a number of other important issues, including the way in which we treat the convictions of people who are mentally ill. Indeed, a Bill is being prepared at the moment, and I hope that it reassures the public on that issue.

With great diligence, the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (David Maclean) always raises the problems of rural farmers and of dairy farmers in particular. He mentioned a fact that may surprise hon. Members—Cumbria is the slowest growing part of an economy in the EU—and my hon. Friends would like to see the evidence to which he referred. He called for massive intervention and wants assisted area designation. I am not sure whether assisted area designation will be granted, but no one will put the case more forcefully than him. He also voiced his strong support for nuclear power and Sellafield and discussed the issue of community hospitals. While commending the Government on the £750 million allocated to community hospitals, like many hon. Members he voiced concerns about the provision of hospitals locally.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) spoke for many of us in her views on the present conflict in the middle east. She condemned the neo-cons, and I have some sympathy with that. I thought it disgraceful that Pat Buchanan could call for the assassination of an elected president in south America. He is not the sort of person who should be granted the right to come to Britain until he completely rejects such dreadful views. She also discussed nuclear power and Trident, both of which will be subject to intense debates, and votes, in this Chamber.

The hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Angela Browning) spoke about the problems with public service contracts. She mentioned the issue of oxygen cylinders, of which I am aware. There are a number of contracts, and my ministerial colleagues in the Department of Health are actively ensuring that officials monitor all contracts to ensure that the sort of problems raised by her and by another hon. Member are tackled, so that the provision reaches the best of the providers and not providers that are less than adequate for meeting the needs of her constituents and others. She mentioned the important issue of equipment for the armed forces, and I am sure that all Ministry of Defence Ministers monitor that matter with great care.

On the same subject, the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) mentioned the honourable role played by former members of the armed forces in policing, which, as he said, should be recognised. I understand that my ministerial colleagues are examining that matter in response to his representations and others.

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My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Alison Seabeck) highlighted a key problem involving her constituent and I shall ensure that the matter is drawn to the attention of colleagues, because it seems most unfair.

The hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis) praised his health authority and highlighted some problems. I am aware of many of the issues because I have been studying a few of the reports in the past week, such as, “Learning the lessons from financial failures in the NHS”, which highlights the 25 trusts that are responsible for 70 per cent. of the overspend. Those trusts show a catalogue of mismanagement and poor financial control.

The right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Sir John Stanley) mentioned his local problems. I refer him to a fairly damning report by PricewaterhouseCoopers on his own trust, which highlighted the mismanagement and problems there. It is important that all Members read those reports and find out, if their health trusts are listed there, what they should be doing to address the problems—

It being Seven o’clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.


Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that Her Majesty has signified her Royal Assent to the following Acts:

Compensation Act 2006

Commissioner for Older People (Wales) Act 2006

International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act 2006

Government of Wales Act 2006

Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006


NHS (Oxfordshire)

7 pm

Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): Several weeks ago, my hon. Friends the Members for Wantage (Mr. Vaizey) and for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) and I presented a petition of many thousands of signatures on the NHS in Oxfordshire, being particularly concerned that Oxfordshire receives the lowest funding for treatment per patient and declaring that the blatant discrimination in the funding system for the NHS is not fair. Since then, I have received approximately 1,500 more signatures to the petition. As those people’s views are equally valid, I wish it to be recorded that they present a petition wishing also to have their views noted.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

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Luton Airport

7.1 pm

Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): I should like to present a petition on behalf of my constituents to share their concerns at the expansion of Luton airport, which I share.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

Hemel Hempstead Hospital

7.4 pm

Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): I wish to present a petition, which was signed by 6,718 constituents who have grave concerns about the future of the Hemel Hempstead hospital and the closure of acute services, especially the closure of the award-winning Hemel Hempstead birthing centre.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

Asbestos Waste Storage (Essex)

7.5 pm

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): I wish to present a petition on behalf of my constituents railing against an asbestos site. I have presented previous petitions on the subject and I have another with 250 signatures. The
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petitioners especially wanted the House of Commons to receive their petition. They claim that the storage of hazardous asbestos waste would introduce unacceptable risks to residential properties and a school that is near the plant, that it would put local roads under increased pressure and risk, and that there are far more appropriate sites for that activity in Castle Point and in Essex generally.

To lie upon the Table.

Road Safety (Leicester)

7.6 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): I wish to present a petition that has been co-ordinated by Peter Price of 2 Birkdale court, 189 Evington lane, Leicester about the speeding of traffic along Evington lane, which is causing enormous concern to local residents and me.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

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