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Anne Moffat (East Lothian) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your advice on whether the frustration that the House has experienced tonight is appropriate. Conservative Members called for a vote and then did not voteand they did it deliberately in order to delay us from reaching a motion that would allow the youth of the country to debate in this Chamber. What makes their backsides any better than those of the youth of this country to sit on these Benches?
Mr. Speaker: The rules of the House say that when a proposition is put from the Chair, hon. Members are entitled to seek to divide the House. I am not allowed to interpret why hon. Members do this; I can only seek the opinion of the House. There would be no other motive than a wish to divide the House on the motion before hon. Members; they would not seek to delay any other matters from coming up.
The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Chris Bryant):
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sure that it is in order for right hon. and hon. Members to force votes even on issues on which they have no intention of voting themselves, including several Conservative Members sitting opposite. But is it really in the interests of this House and of true democracy in this country to use every trick in the book to try to
prevent young people from coming into this Chamber and to try to prevent debate? Have we not seen the forces of reaction sitting across the Chamber, using old politics to frustrate young people?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman is entering into a debate. A proposition was put and soundly defeated. That is democracy and a strength of this House; hon. Members have spoken. If other Members did not want to vote, that is their business.
The hon. Gentleman is the Deputy Leader of the House. The motion is in his hands. He can decide to give it Government time to make sure that it is debated. I have always asked for temperate language. Every trick in the book was perhaps not what I would have said; Every procedure in the book.
Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, I was in the Committee that scrutinised the motion on the control of ozone-depleting substances. Not one Conservative Member opposed it there, just as not one Conservative Member actually voted against it when we divided just now. Conservative Members were effectively voting to try to stop debate on whether or not our bottoms are so sacred that we cannot share these Benches with members of the UK Youth Parliament. Does that not bring this place into disrepute and risk lowering our reputation below that of the Youth Parliament?
Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you had a request from the Secretary of State for Justice to make a statement about the fiasco of the C-NOMIS computer system for the prison and probation services? It is now disgracefully late in coming into service and has exceeded its budget by 300 per cent. to reach more than £690 million. This represents an object lesson in failure. May I suggest that the public have a legitimate expectation that the Government will come here and account for it?
Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): Further to the points of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you heard from the Government as to when they will give Government time for a proper debate on the Youth Parliament issue? When the Prime Minister announced the proposal, he said it would be subject to proper discussion and consultation with all Members of this House. Because that consultation has not taken place, a number of us are concerned and want a debate on it. On, I think, six or seven occasions, a motion has been on the Order Paper, but with no debate, and the Government have been trying to put pressure for this issue to be put through on the nod. I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, would think that it is not the sort of issue that should be put through on the nod, but that it should be subject to proper debate.
That this House welcomes the work of the United Kingdom Youth Parliament in providing young people with an opportunity to engage with the political process and bring about social change; notes that many hon. Members from all parts of the House are actively involved in the work of the UK Youth Parliament; and accordingly resolves that the UK Youth Parliament should be allowed for this year alone to hold its 2009 annual meeting in the Chamber of this House. (Ian Lucas.)
Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I am delighted to present a petition on the biggest issue I have had to deal with since becoming a Member of Parliament. More than 4,000 people have signed the petition, and the leading three signatories are Mr. Colin Wright and Mr. Richard Lewis, respectively the leader and deputy leader of Rushden town council, and Councillor Andy Mercer, the leader of East Northamptonshire council. The petition concerns the closure of an out-patients facility in my constituency and the moving of it to a town some distance away.
The Humble Petition of residents of Rushden, Northamptonshire and surrounding areas,
Sheweth that the plans to close the hospital outpatients facility at the Rushden Memorial Clinic and replace them with a facility outside of Rushden is unacceptable; further sheweth that the Rushden Memorial Clinic was paid for by the people of Rushden to serve the health needs of the people of Rushden; and believes that Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust should not be removing the only outpatient facility from the biggest town in East Northamptonshire to a small town with no adequate public transport.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Health to require Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to review its decision and to build an enhanced outpatient facility in Rushden in line with the local NHSs own weighted criteria.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. etc.
Mr. Paul Burstow (Sutton and Cheam) (LD): This petition is about people who are often out of sight and out of mind: those people who live in care homes. It concerns the 240,000 people in our country who receive an allowance called the personal expense allowance, which amounts to just £3 a day, and which is based on national means-testing rules, which mean that those with savings of more than £22,250 have to surrender their pensions to pay for their care home fees. This allowance is going up by 75p this April to £21.90. Last year, in answer to a parliamentary question, the Minister responsible at the time, the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis), promised a consultation on these matters, and this petition is intended to raise these issues in the House this evening.
The Petition of care home residents, their relatives, and others,
Declares that the over a quarter of a million of the poorest older people living in care homes are entitled to a dignified level of income; further declares that under national means-testing rules for local authorities, these people part with any income to pay towards their care home fees; notes that for older residents this means any pensions they get, and normally all they are left with is a Personal Expenses Allowances of £21.15 a week; further notes that the Personal Expenses Allowance is expected to cover the cost of all personal items not covered by the care package agreed by the local authority, including clothes and toiletries.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls upon Her Majestys Government to recognise the representations of Age Concern and others and increase the Personal Expenses Allowance for people living in residential care who receive state support to at least £40 per week.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Ind): This petition relates to green land at the side of the Dutch Village on Canvey Island. Only six houses in the whole of the Dutch Village did not respond to the petition, which shows the determination and clarity of vision of Canvey residents. If the development goes ahead, as some borough councillors wish, it will make much worse the flooding risks for every island resident as well as further damaging our islands environment and putting greater pressure on our infrastructure. I stand shoulder to shoulder with all the excellent petitioners and with Graham and Linda Bracci and Jan Eagle, who prepared the petition. Canvey people are astounded that some borough councillors are trying to lift the Environment Agency ban on flood risk development on Canvey Island so that the development can go ahead. The petition states:
The Petition of Graham Bracci, residents of the Dutch Village and others,
Declares that Castle Point Councillors are wrong to seek to develop the fields behind Limburg Road and Holland Avenue with an estate of 400 houses; believes that this would put Canveys roads and other infrastructure under intolerable pressure; notes that this area is subject to flooding and should be controlled under Environment Agency flood protection development policies; further believes that there is sufficient brown field land to meet the target for new build and that councillors should consult residents properly and listen to them more seriously, should improve Canveys infrastructure and change their plans to cram yet more housing estates on the Island.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to make it clear to Castle Point council that it will uphold the Environment Agencys rules on development in flood risk areas, that the Council should provide better infrastructure and should protect Castle Point Green Belt.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
Bob Spink: I have a second petition about public opinion on the European Union. In a true democracy, hon. Members will always listen carefully to public opinion and they should avoid acting in this place as though they know better than the people who they are sent here to represent. It is with some sadness that I have to table this petition from Mr. Keith Johnson, members of the Campaign for an Independent Britain and other excellent people.
The Petition of the Democracy Movement Bakewell,
Declares that a new poll by ComRes, a member of the British Polling Council, commissioned by the Campaign for an Independent Britain, reveals that British people believe the European Union is out-of-touch, unfair, corrupt and extremely costly for UK taxpayers and that UK politicians are hopelessly out of touch; further notes that 83 per cent of those polled say British law should be paramount, 75 per cent think UK politicians do not do enough to stand up for British interests in Europe, and 71 per cent want a national referendum to decide whether the UK remains in the EU; further declares the petitioners deep concern that the EU spent 2.4 billion euros of taxpayers money in 2008 to promote itself and its overriding aim of ever closer union.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to declare that it will not take Britain into the euro zone and that it accepts the need for a referendum on the fundamental issue of Britains sovereignty.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
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