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We have reinforced that commitment in the NHS operating framework for 2009 by stating that PCTs should aim to provide access for anyone who seeks help in accessing NHS dentistry. In 2006, a significant number of dentists chose not to accept their new contracts. The level of service that they represented was 3.6 per cent.
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and, in patient terms, that was the equivalent of services for around 1 million patients. This loss is still reflected in the 24-month access data published by the information centre.

The number of dentists providing NHS treatment in 2007-08 increased by 655. So although the dentists who refused the new contracts in 2006 were lost, the number of dentists has started to grow again. The number of courses of treatment delivered in 2007-08 was 2.7 per cent. higher than in 2006-07, and the figures that the information centre published in November show that courses of treatment delivered in the first quarter of the current year are on course to be 3 per cent. higher.

Looking forward, the figures show that PCTs this year have commissioned more dental services than ever. This increase in activity will show in the access data very soon, but locally it is already visible in the form of new practices opening and of existing contracts being grown.

Despite the national figures, many PCTs are already ahead of the game. Some 30 per cent. of PCTs have actually increased dental access from March 2006. Some have done very well. The Isle of Wight, for example, has increased dental access by 24 per cent., while both the Medway and the Telford and Wrekin PCTs have increased it by 17 per cent. Those figures hardly support the view that the new contract somehow causes access to reduce, but I accept that other PCTs need to move further and faster on access. The new commitment in the operating framework gives PCTs a clear signal as to the priority that we place on access.

In my constituency, dentists have developed and run an outreach project to apply fluoride varnishes to children’s teeth to protect them from decay. At the same time, they have put the parents in touch with local dental services. There are many other examples around the country of similar initiatives that can be carried out as part of the contract.

The Select Committee was told to expect a mass exodus from the NHS in April 2009. We do not see any sign of that, although some practices that previously have employed a restricted contract approach to their NHS commitment may find that the PCT proposes a contract value that more properly reflects its commitment to the NHS. Such practices tend to offer child-only contracts, or contracts for exempt patients only.

In conclusion, the past three or four years have been turbulent and unsettling. We now need to move forward with the profession, using the increased investment and larger work force as part of a greater focus on providing NHS dental services that we can be proud of.

I am proud of our NHS dentists; they work hard. They have worked hard for all of us, with a difficult contract. We will make sure that the evidence from our review, and the evidence in the Health Committee report, which my Department welcomes, will continue to strengthen access to dentistry in all our constituencies.

10 pm

Debate interrupted, and Question deferred (Standing Order No. 54(4)).

The Speaker put the deferred Questions (Standing Order No. 54(5)).

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Vote on account, 2009-10

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets


Department of Health


The Speaker then put the Questions on the outstanding Estimates (Standing Order No. 55).

Supplementary Estimates, 2008-09


Estimates, 2009-10 (Vote on Account)


Ordered, That a Bill be brought in upon the foregoing Resolutions;

That the Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Yvette Cooper, Mr. Stephen Timms Angela Eagle, Ian Pearson and introduce the Bill.

Consolidated Fund Bill

Presentation and First Reading

Mr. Stephen Timms accordingly presented a Bill to authorise the use of resources for the service of the years ending with 31 March 2009 and 31 March 2010 and to apply certain sums out of the Consolidated Fund to the service of the years ending with 31 March 2009 and 31 March 2010.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 5).

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Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, regarding the statement made by Assistant Commissioner Mr. Bob Quick on the entry into the House of Commons and the arrest of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green). The statement, we are told, recognises parliamentary rights and freedoms, but we are also told that a report exists. I have written to you, asking whether you would be kind enough to demand and/or ask the person who produced the report—Chief Constable Johnston of the British Transport police—to make it available and put it in the House of Commons.

The statement that we have been provided with welcomes the assurance of Chief Constable Ian Johnston

Irrespective of whether the arrest was lawful, on which I make no comment, the question of whether the searches were lawful is a matter of privilege for the House. The statement asserts that they were lawful, but that is a matter of grave dispute. It is well established that the question of whether a privilege exists is one for the courts. It is for the House to decide whether there has been an infringement. I therefore regard the matter as being within the framework of the complaint of privilege that I have already made to you. I would be grateful if you considered the matter and made appropriate representations, so that we can have a copy of the report; otherwise, there would, I believe, be a breach of privilege.

Mr. Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): Further to that point of order—

Mr. Speaker: Perhaps I might reply to the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash). As I came downstairs this evening to take the Chair, I learned of the statement that was made. It is my understanding that the Johnston report will not be published until criminal proceedings are dealt with. Therefore, there has been no publication of the report, and the situation is as it stood this afternoon, when I replied to the hon. Gentleman to say that I was not going to allow a debate.

Mr. Cash: Further to that statement, if I may, Mr. Speaker. This is very important. The question of whether article 9 of the Bill of Rights provides for the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to be overridden by that article in proceedings in Parliament is the question before the House. The complaint of privilege that I have made effectively states, as you know, Mr. Speaker, that article 9 overrides PACE in respect of the precincts of the House. That is a matter on which the Standards and Privileges Committee must adjudicate in due course if a motion is passed. I believe that that is the position, if I may say so with respect, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Bacon rose—

Mr. Speaker: I will take a point of order from the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Bacon: I am grateful, Mr. Speaker. Further to the point of order from my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Cash). The final review document by Chief Constable Ian Johnston is a review of the behaviour of the police, contrary to the statement of Assistant Commissioner Quick published this evening, which says:

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It does not relate to such an investigation, but to the behaviour of police officers. May I therefore ask you, Mr. Speaker, to reflect—overnight, perhaps—on whether you could consider later in the week, before the House rises for the recess, insisting to the police that the review document, which is now in its final form, be made available to hon. Members?

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman has almost taken the words out of my mouth. He has raised an important matter, and the hon. Member for Stone has raised a point of order, too. As I have stated, I have just come down to chair proceedings, as is traditional for me, to see the last piece of business out before the evening is over. It is best that I take the points of order that both hon. Gentlemen have raised, consider them overnight, and take advice from my advisers and allow the night’s business to proceed. I promise that I will come back to the House as soon as I possibly can on this matter, and of course that will be before the week is out. I thank the hon. Gentlemen for raising their points of order.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Mr. Speaker: If it is convenient for the House, we shall take motions 4 to 8 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


Banks and Banking

Rehabilitation of Offenders

Question agreed to.

Regulatory Reform

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 18(1)),

Question agreed to.

Adjournment (Christmas)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 25),

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The Speaker’s opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Division was deferred until Wednesday 17 December (Standing Order No. 41A).


Northern Rock

10.8 pm

Mr. Fraser Kemp (Houghton and Washington, East) (Lab): I wish to present a petition submitted by my constituent, Linda Lewis, and signed by 73 other constituents who are shareholders and supporters of Northern Rock. The petition calls for the reassessment of the terms of reference given to the valuer appointed to deal with Northern Rock. I hereby submit the petition.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The Petition of small shareholders & supporters of Northern rock of the Houghton and Washington East constituency in the North East of England,

Declares that that it welcomes the acknowledgement by the Government that it must pay compensation for nationalising Northern Rock plc, but that the terms of reference for the valuation of the shares are wrongly based as the company was not in administration and was still a 'going concern'.

Further declares that if these terms are unchanged there will not be a fair compensation payment which will lead to many in our region having their savings and pensions undermined which in turn will have a negative impact on the North East's economy.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls on the Government to reconsider the terms of reference given to the valuer so that he can fully reflect the true value of Northern Rock shares.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.]


Planning and Development (Northamptonshire)

10.9 pm

Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): Before I present the petition, may I wish you a happy Christmas, Mr. Speaker, as I think that this is my last opportunity to do so this year? Thank you for all your help during the whole year for the whole House.

The petition is from the residents of Higham Ferrers. Last Friday, I went to a school there that has a problem with safety, as the petition makes clear:

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