Wednesday 25 March 2015
Petitions presented to the House but not read on the Floor
Eligibility of Members to vote on certain issues in the House of Commons
The Petition of residents of the Huntingdon constituency,
Declares that the Petitioners believe that when Parliament makes decisions affecting only the people of England or England and Wales then those decisions should be made only by the Members of Parliament elected to represent England or England and Wales.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons creates fairness in the devolution settlement by ensuring decisions having a separate and distinct effect on England or England and Wales, are only decided by the Members of Parliament elected to represent England or England and Wales.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Jonathan Djanogly.]
Petitions in the same terms were also presented by the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole Andrew Percy. [P001526]; residents of Carshalton and Wallington [P001492]; residents of Bolton West [P001493]; residents of Stratford-on-Avon [P001494]; residents of Bradford South [P001495]; residents of Elmet and Rothwell [P001496]; residents of North Wiltshire [P001497]; residents of Chelsea and Fulham [P001498]; residents of Ashford [P001499]; residents of Arundel and South Downs [P001500]; residents of Chichester [P001501]; residents of Loughborough [P001502]; residents of Hove [P001503]; residents of Penrith and the Border [P001504]; residents of Torridge and West Devon [P001505]; residents of South Ribble [P001506]; residents of Hammersmith [P001507]; residents of Poplar and Limehouse [P001508]; residents of Rochdale [P001509]; residents of Leeds West [P001510]; residents of Portsmouth South [P001511]; residents of Sutton and Cheam [P001512]; residents of Chesterfield [P001513]; residents of Workington Constituency [P001514]; residents of Bethnal Green and Bow [P001515] residents of Taunton Deane [P001516]; residents of Stockton North [P001517]; residents of Boston and Skegness [P001518]; residents of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland [P001519]; residents of Pontefract and Castleford [P001520]; residents of York Central [P001521]; residents of Barrow and Furness [P001522]; residents of Holborn and St Pancras [P001523]; residents of Southampton Itchen [P001524].
Protection of the wrecks of HMS Cressy, HMS Hogue and HMS Aboukir
The Petition of residents of Gillingham and Rainham,
Declares that the Petitioners believe that the sites of three ships, HMS Cressy, HMS Hogue and HMS Aboukir, lost during the First World War should be protected.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to designate these three wrecks under the Protection of Military Remains Act.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Rehman Chishti.]
Business, Innovation and Skills
Rough Close Post Office
The Petition of residents of the constituency of Stone in Staffordshire,
Declares that residents of Meir Heath object to the relocation of the local Rough Close Post Office branch from Grindley Lane to Sandon Road in Meir Heath; further that a number of products and services will not be available at the new post office; further that the Petitioners will need to find alternative providers to carry out the banking, parcel services and travel insurance on demand; further that there are limited parking facilities at the relocated site which would cause disruption to residents, road users and post office delivery; further that the relocated site would be unsuitable and would pose increased difficulties for the elderly, including the crossing of a major road; further that given the size of the premises, residents wishing to use Post Office facilities would need to queue outside; further that the new open plan serving positions may come with a lack of privacy and security; and further that the Petitioners currently receive professional services from fully trained post office staff with many years’ experience at the existing location.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to intervene to keep the Rough Close Post Office branch in its existing location on Grindley Lane.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Sir William Cash, Official Report, 17 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 731.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills:
The Government note the views of residents who access Post Office services at Rough Close Post Office.
The Government note that the provision and location of post offices is an operational matter which is the responsibility of the Post Office. The Government, as shareholders, do not play any role or intervene in decisions relating to individual post office branches.
The Government note that the 2010 Spending Review contained a clear commitment to modernising the post office network and safeguarding its future, and that Government have allocated £2 billion of funding since 2010 to provide for significant investment across the post office network. A condition of this funding package requires Post Office Ltd to continue to maintain a network of at least 11,500 branches, to comply fully with the access criteria, and with no programme of branch closures.
The Government note that, to maintain a service to the local area, the existing branch is being run on a temporary basis by a temporary agent. In such situations the Post Office works hard to identify a suitable long-term sustainable solution for future provision of post office services to the local area.
The Government note that when the Post Office has a viable proposal for the future provision of services then it consults on that proposal. The Post Office undertakes its local public consultation under the terms of a Code of Practice agreed between the Post Office and Citizens Advice. It is further noted that the Post Office held a local public consultation on its proposals regarding Rough Close Post Office, which was open for comment from the 3 February to 17 March 2015.
The Government note that the Post Office’s consultation process focuses on specific and detailed proposals for relocating the service provision, such as the suitability of the new location and ease of access, and that responses to the consultation are carefully considered by the Post Office before a final decision is reached. The Government note that the Post Office is currently considering the responses received to its consultation before it makes any decision.
The Government note that the Post Office’s proposals for the relocation of Rough Close Post Office to a nearby Martin McColls store would see longer opening hours and Sunday opening, with the majority of Post Office products and services still available, providing improved accessibility and enhanced convenience for customers in a modernised retail environment.
Treatment for Morquio syndrome
The Petition of residents of the Alyn and Deeside constituency,
Declares that Morquio syndrome (also known as MPS IV) is a rare genetic disease; further that Elosulfase, a drug to treat the syndrome, has recently been approved by the European Medicines Agency following positive results in the final stages of clinical trials; further that the drug (in the form of weekly enzyme replacement treatment) improves sufferers’ energy levels and stamina and therefore increases their independence, further that the effects of the drug are hugely beneficial not only to the individuals who have Morquio syndrome but also to their families; further that funding for the newly licensed enzyme replacement therapy to treat Morquio syndrome is unlikely to be approved due to cost saving; and further that the Petitioners believe that the consequences of patients, including children, not receiving this drug are unbearable.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department of Health to ensure that individuals who have Morquio syndrome are given free access at home to enzyme replacement therapy for the treatment of the syndrome.
And the Petitioners remain, etc. [Official Report, 4 March 2015; Vol.593, c.1045.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Health:
Decisions about funding for new treatments and drugs in England for rarer conditions like Elosulfase alpha (Vimizim) for the treatment of Morquio syndrome, are made by NHS England in accordance with its statutory duties under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
NHS England is currently consulting on how it will decide which specialised services and treatments to prioritise. The consultation, Investing in specialised commissioning, can be accessed at: www.engage.england.nhs.uk/ consultation/3a67882b.
Once this consultation concludes on 27 April 2015, NHS England will make a decision as quickly as possible on whether to provide funding for Elosulfase alpha. It has agreed to make this decision prior to the publication of NICE guidance.
NHS England also needs to hold consultations on the specific clinical policy for this individual drug. While this would normally not be started until the wider framework for commissioning had been consulted on and agreed, in the case of Elosulfase alpha it has agreed to run this specific consultation in parallel with the consultation on the wider decision making framework, in order to accelerate this process.
NHS England has also agreed that this consultation on the clinical policy for Elosulfase alpha will run for the shortest possible period of time that is legally permissible: 30 days.
This means that all of the consultations required for a decision on this issue should be concluded by the end of April. However, NHS England will obviously need time to consider all of the responses received before it decides whether to fund this drug––we have urged them to do this as quickly as possible.
In light of these developments, we are therefore hopeful that on this accelerated timetable the patients currently receiving Elosulfase alpha have every chance of continuity of treatment, provided the supplier of the drugs (BioMarin) can agree to maintain supply through to NHS England’s decision. NHS England is now in active discussion with BioMarin over the company’s responsibilities for the continuing supply of drug to the patients it enrolled in clinical trials.
In the event that NHS England decides that Elosulfase alpha remains ‘not routinely commissioned’ when it makes a decision (after the end of April), NHS England is still required to fund treatments that have been evaluated and recommended by the NICE Highly Specialised Technologies programme within three months of the guidance publication. Final guidance on Elosulfase alpha is expected in October 2015.
The Government take the issue of ensuring rapid access to innovative therapies very seriously, which is why they have launched an ‘Innovative Medicines and Medical Technology Review’ of the pathways for the development, assessment, and adoption of innovative medicines and medical technology. This review will consider how to speed up access for NHS patients to cost-effective new diagnostics, medicines and devices.
The review will examine the pathway from ‘first in human’ trials, through licensing and health technology appraisal, to commissioning and clinical practice. It will set out both short and long-term options for action by Government and relevant bodies, including NICE, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and NHS England, and mark a major contribution to the policy debate.
Spread Co Limited
The Petition of sundry former employees of Spread Co Limited,
Declares that although Spread Co Limited (based in Northwood Hills) has a heavy online presence it is actually a small company with fewer than 50 members of staff occupying a few rooms above an inexpensive row of shops; further that Spread Co Limited has made losses for most of its history; further that despite its small workforce Spread Co Limited has attracted numerous staff complaints and civil claims; further that Spread Co has been making redundancies and has been cost-cutting since 2012; further that an Employment Tribunal this year found that the CEO of Spread Co Limited, Ajay Pabari, had treated a manager, Richard Pashley, unlawfully as well as treating a female member of staff unlawfully (although the female member of staff did not win her constructive dismissal claim as she had resigned prematurely against legal advice) and that other members of staff had compromised claims successfully; further that there have been repeated and multiple claims that Spread Co Limited has been involved in questionable financial practices and employment blacklisting; further that there have been repeated complaints about Ajay Pabari, Matt Funnell (the Head of IT) and Richard Pashley; and further that the Petitioners believe it appropriate to warn investors and customers of the substantial risk to their money.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Financial Conduct Authority and the Data Protection Commissioner to investigate Spread Co Limited, Ajay Pabari, Richard Pashley and Matt Funnel in relation to the numerous staff complaints that Spread Co has attracted, the claims that Spread Co Limited has been involved in questionable financial practices and employment blacklisting and the complaints against the individuals mentioned.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by John Hemming, Official Report, 15 December 2014; Vol. 589, c. 5P.]
Observations from the Chancellor of the Exchequer:
The Government thank the hon. Member for Birmingham Yardley (John Hemming) for his petition on behalf of former employees of Spread Co Limited.
The Government and all UK authorities take allegations of misconduct in financial services firms very seriously.
The Financial Conduct Authority is an independent regulator with responsibility for investigating possible contraventions of financial services law and regulatory requirements. The Information Commissioner is an independent regulator with responsibility for investigating possible contraventions of data protection law. It would not be appropriate for the Government to seek to intervene in the day-to-day operation of independent regulators or to comment on an individual case.
Anyone who has specific allegations about misconduct should pass the evidence that they have to the relevant regulator or other appropriate authorities.