Declares that in the 60th year of the NHS the House of Commons should support existing NHS GP surgeries, improve services to patients by further investment in existing GP surgeries and be aware of the risks posed by Government plans to promote the use of commercial companies in general practice. Further declares that they do not want public funding to move from GP practices to commercial companies who are accountable primarily to shareholders rather than patients, and declares that they wish to be treated by GPs who see them as patients, rather than as customers.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Health to continue support for existing GP surgeries, improve services to patients by further investment in existing GP surgeries, and to halt its plans to promote the use of commercial companies in general practice because this risks destabilising local surgeries and threatens the comprehensive, high quality care currently received from GPs.
Declares that the current ban on smoking in public places leaves smokers exposed to the elements of the British winter. Current laws force people to go outside when they smoke, potentially enduring harsh conditions such as rain, snow and extreme cold. The laws should be assessed so that certain venues, such as bars and pubs, are not subject to the same bans as other types of public places such as shops and restaurants. It is unfair to treat bars and pubs the same as other public places when it comes to smoking, as smoking tobacco is something people traditionally do in bars and pubs.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Health to allow for up to a twenty percent provision for smoking in pubs and bars that does not leave smokers exposed to the elements of the British winter.
The new smokefree law in England was introduced to protect employees and the public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Bars, pubs and clubs have employees and customers who have a right to be protected from secondhand smoke in the same way that employees and customers in other hospitality settings. In practice, all are protected equally by the smokefree law.
During consideration of the Health Bill in 2006, both Houses of Parliament decided by a very significant majority across all parties, on a free vote, to include both licensed premises and members' clubs within the new law. They gave very careful consideration to the inclusion of all hospitality premises at that time. Parliament decided that all bars, pubs and clubs should be covered by the smokefree law. In commercial terms, the new law created a level playing field within the hospitality sector, which was seen to be the fairest solution whilst also protecting workers and the wider public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
Parliament also gave consideration to exposure to the elements of a British winter for those who go outside and smoke. Smoking or exposure to the harmful effects of secondhand tobacco smoke was considered a greater danger to public health than requiring those who wish to smoke to do so outdoors. It is generally recognised that winters in this country are much less harsh than in other countries such as Canada and Norway where comprehensive smokefree laws had been successfully enacted before the law in England.
The evidence of the success of the smokefree law is published in the report Smokefree England - One Year On published on 1st July 2008. This shows that the vast majority of people (76 per cent.) support the law and even a majority of smokers support it (55 per cent).
Declares that they are seriously concerned about the future of the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office in Crewe, and also similar threats facing their colleagues elsewhere in the North West of England. The proposal to close this office will mean that local people and businesses will be left without access to these services. They are also concerned about the likelihood of staff affected by the closures being able to find alternative work within the local area, it being unreasonable for them to travel to alternative HMRC sites by public transport for reasons of cost, time and care for their families. They further declare their support for the PCS campaign to keep these offices open.
The Government note that HMRC published on 11 June its proposals for restructuring its operations in cluster and individual locations in the North West, which includes Crewe. All representations will be taken into account before final decisions are made later this year on the future of Crewe and the other offices under review. HMRC will continue to maintain a local face to face advice service to customers by retaining enquiry centre services at or near their current locations.