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If the House is able to end the business of having to report separately to the Registrar of Members’ Interests and the Electoral Commission, the Government stand
2 Feb 2009 : Column 668
ready to commence section 59 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 so that we, as parliamentarians, have to report to only one place.

Several hon. Members referred to the matter of whether we should elect all members of Select Committees and whether we should elect the Chairmen of Select Committees by secret ballot. Although that sometimes seems an attractive option, there is a danger that if the majority vote were always to carry the decision on the membership and Chairman of every Committee, we would not have the independent Committees that we need. The minor parties would suffer most.

I say to those who call for a business Committee of the House that they fail to understand the major and significant difference between this House, in which the Government are constituted solely by virtue of their majority, and other Parliaments that operate differently, in which Ministers are often precluded from being members of the legislature. To those who believe that a nirvana might come if we were to have a business Committee, I say that other Parliaments that have such committees have precisely the same complaints about whether there is the right allocation of time and whether individual Back Benchers have their interests met and can make speeches.

Some hon. Members suggested that this Government have not been radical enough on constitutional reform. All that I would say is that when the Liberals were in power, they never managed to reform the House of Lords in any way at all. The Conservatives never had any desire to do so, and it is only this Government who have managed to remove the majority of the hereditary peers. It is only by virtue of our work that the Law Lords have been reformed. We are proud to be a Government who have brought forward devolution and freedom of information.

My hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) demanded that I agree with every single thing that he said, but I am afraid that I am unable to do that. He said that I have fallen among thieves by virtue of my membership of the Government. Well, there is honour among thieves, and the truth is that this Government are committed to the reform of Parliament. Nobody should have a job for life, we should have a smaller Chamber and we have laid out a clear path to reform.

I am glad to have my right hon. Friends the Leader of the House and the Lord Chancellor by my side as I point out to hon. Members who have said that we are not being diligent enough in bringing forward constitutional reform that we committed ourselves in the Queen’s Speech to introducing a constitutional renewal Bill later this year. I believe that the whole House is united in wanting to protect its reputation and in its determination to do everything necessary to ensure that that happens.

Question put (Standing Order No. 31 (2)), That the original words stand part of the Question.

The House divided: Ayes 47, Noes 221.
Division No. 28]
[9 pm


Alexander, Danny
Baker, Norman
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Burstow, Mr. Paul

Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr. Don
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Holmes, Paul
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Mulholland, Greg
Pugh, Dr. John
Rennie, Willie
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Spink, Bob
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Martin Horwood and
Dan Rogerson

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Benn, rh Hilary
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Mr. Frank
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hoey, Kate
Hope, Phil

Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Ann
Kennedy, rh Jane
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Ms Dawn Butler and
Ian Lucas
Question accordingly negatived.
2 Feb 2009 : Column 669

2 Feb 2009 : Column 670

Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 31 (2)), That the proposed words be there added.

Question agreed to.

2 Feb 2009 : Column 671

The Deputy Speaker declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to (Standing Order No. 31(2).


Business without Debate

delegated legislation

Social Security



Traffic Management (Essex)

9.12 pm

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Ind): I will be brief so that the House can rise and staff can get home in the snow.

The borough and county councillors have known of, but ignored, the poor junction design at Climmen road, resulting in numerous accidents and, we now hear, injuries. Borough Councillor Alan Partridge says he was aware of visibility problems, but that is simply not good enough. I demand action from those councillors and I congratulate Samantha Mitchell and her superb fellow residents on producing this petition. It states:


2 Feb 2009 : Column 672


Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.— (Chris Mole.)

9.13 pm

Ben Chapman (Wirral, South) (Lab): I am delighted to have secured this debate about Eastham, as I feel strongly that it has been dealt a series of unfair blows recently, and I am pleased to have so many colleagues around to support me. Every community needs to retain certain basic facilities, which need to be preserved and protected from planning and other decisions that threaten to damage them. Any community needs an essential core. Eastham is characterised by being a pleasant and normal English community. It is not an inner city area. It is not rural. It does not depend on any one industry. In many respects, it is a microcosm of our society. My central motivation in leading this debate tonight is to challenge decisions that have been taken and to try to ensure that Eastham and other communities like it do not continue to be the victims of chance.

Mr. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): Like my hon. Friend, I am a great fan of Eastham. As a boy, I used to cycle down by the locks there. Will he tells us a little about the general environment, because I do not think that people understand what a picturesque place Eastham is?

Ben Chapman: I am grateful to my hon. Friend; that is absolutely true, and I shall deal with that point in those specific terms in just a moment.

Local authorities should have a vision for the protection and preservation of and comprehensive development strategies for communities such as Eastham. Decisions that do not act to Eastham’s advantage should be taken within a framework of detailed local knowledge and in accordance with the needs of local people, rather than by dint of the vagaries of chance, ad hoc actions and the whims of others, without heeding the consequences.

As my hon. Friend suggested, it might be useful to provide an overview of Eastham’s place in Wirral and its history. It has a population of about 12,000. Much of it is a green belt area, stretching from the border of the Bromborough industrial estate to the historic Manchester ship canal, the entrance to which is in Eastham at Queen Elizabeth dock. The original village of Eastham, around which more modern housing has been developed, is one of the oldest villages on the Wirral peninsula. It has been inhabited since Anglo-Saxon times and was mentioned in the Domesday Book. St. Mary’s church, which is at the heart of the village, is still active today, of course. The closure of its primary school some while ago, however, did not augur well for the sort of development of which I will speak.

A report in the parish magazine for September 1874 quotes Nathaniel Hawthorne—who was then the American Consul in Liverpool, as my hon. Friends will know—as describing Eastham as

Much of the old village remains, with a mediaeval street pattern, irregularly clustered period buildings and a distinctive character.

2 Feb 2009 : Column 673

Eastham village conservation area was designated in April 1974, and Wirral metropolitan borough council has specific policy objectives for it: to maintain the sense of separation from the surrounding built-up area through the retention of open spaces around the village core; to preserve the setting and sense of enclosure afforded by boundary walls, hedges and mature landscaping; and to preserve the visual setting of the village cross, war memorial and the church of St. Mary, with its yard and lichgate. Although I welcome that limited protection for the historic village, what is needed is a comprehensive policy framework for development in the whole area.

Eastham, like many other communities, has a small number of the key facilities that make it up. There is a much-valued day centre, which provides vital facilities for adults with learning and physical disabilities, and the excellent Lyndale school, which specialises in the education of children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. It is a centre of excellence. Last October, with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, I saw the admirable work carried out by its talented and committed teaches.

Other local amenities include the usual selection of cafés and shops. A new medical centre is being developed, and there are facilities such as a rugby club, an Air Training Corps site and allotments. One of Eastham’s most treasured aspects is its country park, which is central to its character and a popular attraction. Home to a huge range of wildlife, it is a local treasure. It is also an important educational resource. Every year, park rangers lead more than 3,000 schoolchildren on activities, thus nurturing an interest in and understanding of nature and their environment that will stay with them into their adult life. Despite the loss of the Church primary school, good mainstream schooling is provided at Heygarth, Millfields, Mendell and Raeburn primary schools. South Wirral high school provides excellent secondary education.

But there are problems. Eastham gets little by way of funding. It suffers, like other areas that are neither rural nor inner city, from a lack of funding streams. My constituency as a whole and Eastham in particular is heterogeneous, rather than uniform in character. Notwithstanding the Government’s investment in communities that has surpassed that of any other Government, areas that may be classified as suburban—although Eastham would not see itself in that light—are in danger of falling between two stools and thus missing out on the resources that they need. Urban and rural areas benefit from policies, lobbies and organisations adept at getting the most out of the bidding system. Areas such as Eastham suffer as a result and do not benefit greatly from, for example, neighbourhood renewal, Sure Start or other such improvement funds. It is also a long way, and is seen as such, from the town hall in Wallasey.

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