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That the draft Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2008, which were laid before this House on 21st May, be approved. [Siobhain McDonagh.]
That the draft National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (Social Welfare) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 22nd May, be approved. [Siobhain McDonagh.]
That the draft Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumers Home or Place of Work etc. Regulations 2008, which were laid before this House on 4th June, be approved. [Siobhain McDonagh.]
That this House takes note of the unnumbered Explanatory Memorandum from HM Treasury dated 2nd June 2008, relating to the Preliminary Draft Budget of the European Communities for the year 2009; and supports the Governments efforts to maintain budget discipline in relation to the budget for the European Communities. [ Siobhain McDonagh.]
That the Fire and Rescue Services (National Framework) (England) Order 2008 (S.I., 2008, No. 370), dated 3rd June, be referred to a Delegated Legislation Committee. [Siobhain McDonagh.]
That Mr Iain Wright be discharged from the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons and Dr Howard Stoate be added. [Siobhain McDonagh.]
That, at the sitting on Thursday 3rd July, the Speaker shall put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on
(1) the Motions in the name of Ms Harriet Harman relating to Members Salaries; and;
(2) the Motion in the name of Nick Harvey relating to Members Expenses and the Motion in the name of Ms Harriet Harman relating to Members Home Addresses
in each case one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the first such Motion; such Questions shall include the Questions on any Amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; proceedings may continue, though opposed, after the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply. [Siobhain McDonagh.]
The Petition of employees of HM Revenue and Customs, the Public and Commercial Services Union and others,
Declares that they are seriously concerned about the future of the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office in Kendal, and also similar threats facing their colleagues in Lancaster and Barrow. The proposal to close these offices will mean that local people and businesses will be left without access to these services. They are also concerned about likelihood of staff affected by the closures being able to find alternative work within the local area. They further declare their support for the PCS campaign to keep these offices open.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the HM Treasury to withdraw the threat of closure to local HMRC offices.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
The Humble Petition of Botley and Hedge End residents,
Sheweth that they object to the proposed Strategic Development Area to the N/NE of Hedge End and the inadequacy of the consultation and selection process.
They represent the views of 312 residents who signed a similar petition during a public meeting on 12 June 2008 at Botley Church, and reflect the widespread views of local residents.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House shall urge the Department of Communities and Local Government to withdraw the proposed Strategic Development Area in order to embark on proper consultation and a full consideration of the alternatives.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.
The Petition of the citizens of Glamis and surrounding area,
Declares the Petitioners belief that the reduction of Glamis Post Office to an outreach service will have a serious detrimental effect on the local community and will undermine efforts to encourage new businesses in rural Angus.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to instruct Post Office Ltd. to keep Glamis Post Office open.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
Many Members believe that economic strength and development is a fundamental building block for the people we represent. Those of us who witnessed when that did not occur in our constituencies are aware of the devastating effect it had on the people we represent and the communities we serve. It is crucial that we get that economic development and growth right, not only for existing generations but for generations to come.
I want to concentrate on some of my constituencys local successes, and to talk about some of the challenges we face in a fast-moving global environment. Coupled with that, in no way do I want to underestimate the problems we have had in the past and the problems we still face now. Although this debate is about economic development in Houghton and Washington, East, it is fair to say that no one constituency, region or nation can address economic development in isolation from current events and the global economy, and the impact that that has on everyone we represent. When 10 years ago textile workers in my constituency working in a former mining village called Fence Houses lost their jobs because Marks and Spencer decided to source from emerging markets, that had an impact and it was a direct result of globalisation. When the Nissan car manufacturer moves towards medium and higher value cars, that is an impact of globalisation as well, because emerging markets are now starting to produce much cheaper cars; we have heard some of the announcements in India and other places, where cars can be built for $1,000 or $2,000.
This global impact therefore affects us all, and the purpose of the debate is to raise some of the issues and to explain how I think we can respond. We must respond with a lot more creativity and flexibility than in the past, because the decision is not about whether we adapt to what is happening in the rest of the world, but how we adapt and what public policy we have, and what measures and mechanisms we put in place to make sure that the people we represent have a competitive advantage. Whether we like it or not, the train is leaving the station and we must be properly on board it. In my area and others, the growth and decline of traditional industries often took centuries, but I suspect that that will happen a lot quicker in future.
The area I represent has learned a number of lessons that it is right I share with the House. It has learned and applied those lessons despite the dramatic loss of its core industries. It is hard to comprehend the devastating impact that the loss of those industries had, not just economically but socially, in a very short space of time. It is against that tough background that the city has made significant progress.
Sunderlands economy has been among the fastest growing in the country in the last 10 years.
Sunderlands success has been in regenerating its urban sites, while at the same time capitalising on the growing trends in the service and knowledge economy. The city has come a long way in modernising its economy with a flourishing service sector with big names such as Barclays, T-Mobile and BT locating here.
The engineering sector is also thriving with Nissan at its forefront, operating the most efficient car plant in Europe.
Growth has accelerated in the last five years, driven by stronger activity in the knowledge sector.
While the report endorses the city absolutely, it makes the obvious pointand it is worth placing it on the recordthat some areas still require improvement. Public infrastructure is one such area, and improving it would attract more service-based companies to invest in the area. Public investment has come into the area in the past 10 yearsand there is more to comeand that has helped us to narrow the gap year on year in a range of economic indicators according to which we lagged behind massively in previous decades.
In a further endorsement of the city councils strategy, the 2008 Cities Outlook report specifically identified Sunderland as having one of the highest rates of employment growth. A Business Inquiry report showed that growth in employment was 9.4 per cent., compared with 6.7 per cent. in the region and 3.3 per cent. for the UK. However, worklessness in the city is still higher than the national average. It has fallen three times faster than the national average in the last 10 years, and in my constituency alone we have seen a substantial reduction of 12. 5 per cent. in unemployment in the last five years. There are many reasons for that, but the overall success of the British economy has contributed massively. Various initiatives have helped many thousands of people in my constituency get back into work, but more needs to be done, and I shall give one small example. Many people need a multi-agency approach to get them back into work, and the city council believes that there should be more data sharing and co-operation between agencies in that regard.
It is to the eternal credit of the city council, past and present, that it recognised early that our core industries were not just declining, but disappearing. Early intervention through an economic strategy was the best and most secure way to prevent our city from becoming an industrial desert. The council worked hard to attract important inward investment and to promote small, indigenous companies in the city so that they could create jobs. Against a difficult backdrop, the council had the guts and determination to sell the city and ensure that it punched above its weight. It is not surprising that the city is an award winner many times over for its approach to economic development.
The key is not only attracting investment in the first placewhich is difficult enoughbut ensuring aftercare for the companies involved. Local and national Government have to provide facilities and work with companies that want solutions to problems. It is not just about getting them to come in and then forgetting about them. It is about working with companies over a period of time.
As I said, the city council has won many awards, but I read recently that it also received recognition from an unusual source. I do not usually pray in aid leading members of the Conservative party but I shall make an
exception on this occasion. A leading former Sunderland businessman and leading Conservative, Sir Tom Cowie, feels that Sunderland
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