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In many parts of the Bill, there is an implicit recognition of the role of the voluntary sector and the community sector in representing communities. That is not the same role as councillors have; it is a complementary one. I do not want to get into an argument about Wiltshire, but perhaps the answer to the concerns of the hon. Member for Salisbury (Robert Key) is the strengthening of local area agreements. Making sure that different service providers work together towards common aims and goals, and share
the necessary practical and administrative facilities, has great potential. Services do not have to be delivered identically in every community. They have to recognise the needs of those communities at a local level. In years to come, we will look back at the partnerships that are inherent in the Bill and say that the Bill was good because of the changes that were made.
Another reason the Bill enhances local democracy is that it extends public scrutiny. We have seen the scrutiny system in local government mature over recent years. It has become a force to reckon with and has shown itself capable of holding local authorities to account. The provision of social care is one of the roles of local authorities, but over recent years we have seen a blurring of the border between health and social care. It is therefore essential that we produce a vehicle that can extend the scrutiny over the grey border between health and social care. The way to do that is through the mature scrutiny functions of local authorities and the experience of patients. I am thinking of the sheer commitment that many patients have shown through their involvement with community health councils and forums. I am sure that, in a few years time, we will see that in the local involvement networks as well. As I said in Committee, abolition is a dirty word, but actually it is just part of a process that will bring together health and social care with the support of the scrutiny that local authorities can give. But, essentially, it will be a voluntary organisationmore than likelythat will co-ordinate LINks and make sure that patients are properly represented.
We are also seeing greater powers and responsibilities for councillors. It is not just their scrutiny role that is enhanced; there is also their role as facilitators and champions of their communitypeople who work with their community organisations rather than against them, as some councillors do. I am talking about being part of the same process, and working through the community call for action and some of the other facilities in the Bill to make sure that people who draw attention to the issues that are important in different streets and communities get their voices heard. In a limited way, there are even powers to choose whether there are thirds elections or all-out elections. That has been a minor success, but a success none the less, showing that scrutiny in this place works too.
The Bill is about making things happen in communities. It is about trusting local people, involving local people and serving local peoplenot just through councillors and local government, but through the other organisations that hold our communities together and provide the glue and the fabric that make society work. In that sense, it is no exaggeration to say that we will look back on this Bill in a few years time and say, That was when it was recognised that communities, voluntary groups and others could come together with local authorities and councillors as partners, working with other public sector providers to make sure that there is a coherent, sensitive provision of local services that complement each other and make life in communities better.
That the draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Quality and Safety) Regulations 2007, which were laid before this House on 25th April, be approved. [ Mr. Alan Campbell.]
That the draft Human Tissue (Quality and Safety for Human Application) Regulations 2007, which were laid before this House on 25th April, be approved. [Mr. Alan Campbell.]
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): I have been privileged today to welcome a party of constituents to the Palace of Westminster. Their mission has been to promote the case for an adult hospice in North-West Leicestershire. The first part of the day was to discuss the topic with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Mr. Hamilton), chairman of the all-party hospice and palliative care group. The second was to lobby the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis). I am grateful to my colleagues for the time that they gave. The third and final part is for me to present this petition.
The signatories include Dorothy Lacey MBE, Carol Smith, Kate Last, Loraine Liddell, Tony Hodkinson and Stewart Shepherd of the Hospice Hope support group, who are working extremely hard to advance the campaign and who were at the House today, as well as me as the local Member of Parliament.
To the House of Commons.
The Petition of 3,121 residents of North West Leicestershire and surrounding areas
The hospice movement deserves the wide-spread admiration, endorsement and devoted support it receives for its work with people who face the end of their lives and for meeting the needs of their families and friends, ensuring that those in their care are accorded respect, privacy and dignity and are valued and responded to with empathy.
Further declares that...
Following the closure in 2002 of the Sue Ryder Hospice at Staunton Harold, the local area has waited too long for a successor facility to provide day, respite and terminal care and that patients in North West Leicestershire with a palliative illness are being denied choices because of the lack of access to their own hospice and associated support centre.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Secretary of State for Health to ensure that the NHS through the Leicestershire County and Rutland Primary Care Trust and the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority respond and act to meet the growing and pressing needs of many patients and their loved ones for a hospice in our area...
And the Petitioners remain, etc.,
Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab): On the morning of Friday 11 May, just as I was about to attend a turf-cutting ceremony for a brand new primary care centre at the Victoria central hospital in Liscarda £14-million public investmentI received phone calls from distressed workers at the Burtons Foods plant in Moreton. They had been gathered together in the canteen and told that the production of biscuits at the plant would cease, making 660 of them redundant. Following that bombshell, staff were not allowed to ask their managers questions, nor were their trade union representatives allowed on site to meet them. Instead, the employees were escorted off company premises by the additional security guards who had been hired specially for the day.
Despite a history of considerable public sector investment and financial support for the plant, the company chose not to give any prior notice of its decision to the local authority, the trade unions or me. I had visited the plant on several occasions in the past few months and was acutely aware that the review was being conducted. I had received personal assurances that I would be kept in touch with progress, but I was not. In 2003, as the local MP, I had played a part in putting together a package that had involved £4 million of public money. In response, the work force had agreed a painful £12 million cost reduction plan. As part of it, they had endured a three-year pay freeze and changes to working practices designed to safeguard their future. The companys legal obligations under that package ran out in March this year.
To say that there is shock and anger in the communities of Moreton and Leasowe as they contemplate Burtons actions is an understatement. I feel that I must express that shock and anger to the House on their behalf tonight. There is despair and worry about the future, as well as a sense that the company has taken the considerable sacrifice that local workers have made over the past few years and thrown it back in their faces. I must say that I can see that point of view.
Five days after the shock of the announcement of 11 May, I convened a meeting in Parliament. It was attended by the chief executive of Burtons Foods, Paul Kitchener, representatives of the Northwest Development Agency, Wirral metropolitan borough council chief executive Steve Maddox, and the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, Tony Woodley. I am grateful to all concerned for their swift response to my request and for the seriousness with which all parties approached that meeting. After a long and intense meeting, the company agreed to share its figures and plans with us in much greater detail. We will now work together to see whether any alternative approach can be taken that might enable us to preserve at least some manufacturing capacity on the Moreton site.
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