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Tuesday 30 March 2010

Presented Petition

Petition presented to the House but not read on the Floor

Equitable Life (Birmingham, Northfield)

Declares that the Petitioners either are or they represent or support members, former members or personal representatives of deceased members of the Equitable Life Assurance Society who have suffered maladministration leading to injustice, as found by the Parliamentary Ombudsman in her report upon Equitable Life, ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 16 July 2008 and bearing reference number HC 815; and further declares that the Petitioners or those whom they represent or support have suffered regulatory failure on the part of the public bodies responsible from the year 1992 onwards, but have not received compensation for the resulting losses and outrage.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to uphold the constitutional standing of the Parliamentary Ombudsman by complying with the findings and recommendations of her Report upon Equitable Life.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.



Children, Schools and Families

Free School Meals (Stoke-on-Trent)

The Petition of Rachael Wilson and others,

Declares that there is a desire among the people of the city of Stoke-on-Trent for Free School Meal provision in the area's schools; further declares that several hundred postcards in support of Free School Meal provision, signed by parents, grandparents and carers of children studying in Stoke-on-Trent Primary Schools, have been sent to the Member for Stoke-on-Trent.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons call upon the Government to take steps to ensure that Free School Meals can be provided in the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. -[Presented by Mr. Robert Flello , Official Report, 16 March 2010; Vol. 507, c. 846 .][P000769]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families:

In his pre-Budget report 2009 the Chancellor announced that there would be an extension to the current universal Free School Meals (FSM) pilots for primary school children, so that there will be a pilot in each Government office region. Letters were sent to local authorities on 4 February, outlining the key criteria that had to be met if an area wanted to run a pilot. These were that the area could match the additional funding provided by
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this Department and that schools and the local authority had capacity to deliver the one-year pilot from September 2010.

If the local authority fulfilled these criteria they were invited to express their interest by 17 February. Expressions of interest were evaluated and, following Ministerial agreement, a number of them were asked to develop full bids by 12 March. I am sorry to report that we did not receive an expression of interest from the hon. Member's local authority.

While I appreciate the hon. Member's support for free school meals, as the application process has now closed, it would not be appropriate for my Department to fund pilots in local authorities which have not expressed an interest.

Communities and Local Government

Planning (Elvaston Castle Country Park)

The Petition of Friends of Elvaston, residents of Derbyshire and others,

Declares that the Petitioners object to the proposed planning application to lease Elvaston Castle Country Park to private developers;

Declares that the change of use to a privately run facility will deprive some sections of the community of the opportunity to use the Castle, which previously hosted activities for all the community; that building a hotel complex and golf course on the land will reduce public open space and lessen the designated green belt; that the beautiful Major Oak Tree in the Paddock, which is around 260 years old, will be felled to make way for the complex; that the golf course may deposit pollutants into the River Derwent and surrounding water courses, and may create risks to the Country Park, Elvaston, Thulston, Ambaston and surrounding areas;

Further declares that changes to the footprint of the 17th century coach road will affect members of the public who use the footpath and that traffic on the planned new road would be in conflict with other Park users and would create air and noise pollution, as well as requiring thinning and felling of trees, some of which are protected species;

Further declares that to access the proposed golf club house, a new road would be needed on or parallel to Bedford Drive, a designated Public Right of Way, and that if the new road is parallel to Bedford Drive then this would require felling of trees, loss of habitat and the creation of air and noise pollution, as well as loss of land for drainage, signage and lighting; that the new road development would fall within the Country Park, green belt and English Heritage Grade 2 Listed Gardens; that increased traffic could cause dangerous road hazards, and that other new roads are also planned that could damage the Country Park;

Further declares that the proposed development could seriously harm the biodiversity of the designated Local Nature Reserve and the Nature Conservation Area within the Park; that the planned golf courses could destroy the Regionally Important Geomorphological and Geological Site containing remains of flora and
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fauna from the Ipswichian period of the Earth's Development; that archaeological remains dating from every period of history back to the Middle Stone Age could be damaged or destroyed by the planned golf courses; and that the planned actions will contravene many Local and Regional Plans and Planning Policies.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to take steps to prevent the approval of the planning application to lease Elvaston Castle Country Park to private developers, in order to preserve the natural environment of the park and its rights of way for public use; and to protect the biodiversity and the important geological and archaeological assets within the Park.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. -[Presented by Mr. Bob Laxton , Official Report, 23 February 2010; Vol. 506, c. 270 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has been informed by Derbyshire County Council, who are the landowners of the castle and park, that a planning application has not been submitted for this site. South Derbyshire District Council has confirmed that it has not received any planning applications relevant to the site. Therefore it is not appropriate for the Secretary of State to comment on the matter, however the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Malik) has written to my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Laxton) in response to correspondence on a similar issue.


Dementia Research

The Petition of members of UNISON and others,

Declares that 1 million people will develop dementia in the next 10 years; that one in three people over the age of 65 will die from dementia but that it can happen at any age; and that while drugs may alleviate some symptoms, there is currently no cure;

Further declares that the Government must fund research to develop better treatments and a cure, and to prevent an NHS crisis; and that for every £283 invested in cancer research, dementia research gets only £1.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons call upon the Government immediately to increase funding for dementia research to help the lives of those affected today, and to reduce the threat in future to the NHS.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. -[Presented by Kelvin Hopkins , Official Report, Tuesday 16 March 2010; Vol. 507, c. 845 .][P000750]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Health:

Dementia is one of the most important issues we face as the population ages and research is the key to developing new treatments, transforming care and ultimately finding a cure.

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Public funding is available. The Department of Health and Medical Research Council will invest some £1.7 billion in heath-related research in 2010-11. The Government are very keen to see an increase in the number of dementia research proposals getting a share of this funding.

To that end, two initiatives have been taken by the Department of Health. A Ministerial Summit on Dementia Research was held on 21 July 2009 to examine the key issues for dementia research, identifying gaps in knowledge and new opportunities for the future. A full report of the Summit proceedings was published in the autumn of 2009 and is available on line at:

To maintain the momentum begun by the Summit, a Ministerial Advisory Group has been set up drive forward research into the causes, cure and care of dementia and help dementia researchers to increase their success in accessing existing funding. It held its first meeting on 24 February 2010.

The Group is made up of the main organisations with a stake in dementia research. Its focus is on the key issues raised at last year's Summit, including how to increase public support for dementia research and improve its translation into better treatment and care.

The Group has identified five broad workstreams. These will be taken forward by designated sub-groups led by one or more members of the Group, drawing in additional advice and expertise as necessary.

The worksteam topics are:

Each workstream sub-group will examine its specific area in detail, identifying the major issues and suggesting practical ways to address them.

Spinal Cord Injuries (Physiotherapy)

The Petition of People of the London Borough of Croydon,

Declares that there is no provision within the NHS outpatient physiotherapy services of an ongoing exercise regime to improve overall health, fitness and wellbeing for persons with a spinal cord injury; further declares that the petitioners believe that, without such a regime, such persons will undoubtedly in the future require continuing NHS health care services as inpatients.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take steps to ensure that such an ongoing exercise regime is made available by the NHS outpatient physiotherapy services to all persons who have a spinal cord injury.

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And the Petitioners remain, etc. -[Presented by Mr. Andrew Pelling , Official Report, 24 February 2010; Vol. 506, c. 417 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Health:

The Secretary of State recognises that spinal cord injury is a devastating condition, requiring extensive rehabilitation from a range of health care professionals.

All patients, including those with a spinal cord injury, who have been critically ill and spent a time in critical care should be assessed for on-going rehabilitation needs in accordance with NICE Clinical Guideline 83. This should include physiotherapy and psychological needs as necessary.

NHS physiotherapy services are provided on the basis of assessed clinical need. It is for Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in partnership with local stakeholders, including practice based commissioners, local government and the public, to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health and to commission services accordingly. This process provides the means for addressing local needs within the health community including the provision of physiotherapy.

The Department of Health encourages local NHS organisations to adopt the quality standards outlined in the National Service Framework (NSF) for Long-Term (Neurological) Conditions. The NSF recognises the importance of rehabilitation services, such as those provided by physiotherapists, for addressing the complex needs of people with spinal cord injury and that adequately staffed and resourced services are required to achieve this.

House of Commons Commission

Bellamy's Bar Closure

The Petition of staff working in Parliament,

Declares that the Petitioners are concerned at the announcement by the House of Commons Commission that it intends to close Bellamy's Bar, the Astor Suite and Bellamy's club room on the first floor of 1 Parliament Street in order to provide a day nursery; that the Petitioners believe that the estimated cost of conversion of £400,000 is unacceptable in the present economic climate, particularly having regard to the expenditure of £480,000 on refurbishing the facilities less than two years ago;

Further declares that the Petitioners deplore the fact that there has been no consultation with the users of the facilities or with those who work there, and find it unacceptable that there are no plans to replace the facilities elsewhere on the Parliamentary estate; and that the Petitioners believe that ground floor premises at Derby Gate which will become available during the next Parliament will be better suited for conversion into a day nursery.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls upon the House of Commons Commission to reconsider its decision, and to bring forward fresh proposals early in the next Parliament which take account of the demand for day nursery facilities among incoming Members of Parliament, their families, and staff, with a view to meeting that demand at an affordable price within the space to be vacated on the ground floor at Derby Gate.

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