Mark Simmonds: I congratulate my fellow maiden speakers the hon. Members for Guildford (Sue Doughty), for Greenock and Inverclyde (David Cairns) and for Argyll and Bute (Mr. Reid), and my hon. Friends the Members for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) and for Fareham (Mr. Hoban), who in their own way all gave very informative, lucid and erudite speeches. It is a great honour and a privilege to deliver my maiden speech...
Mark Simmonds: I should like to do the exact opposite of my hon. Friend the Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson) by speaking only to new clauses 2 and 3. The Bill's provisions are positive and generally acceptable, and I believe that the Government have introduced the Bill with the best of intentions. When meeting housing needs, it is definitely a step forward to increase the number of categories of those...
Mark Simmonds: I do not think that new clause 3 would preclude a solution to that problem.
Mark Simmonds: As my hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold said, the local authority should have discretion to address specific issues as they arise, such as the issue that the hon. Gentleman has just raised.
Mark Simmonds: It should be the local authority that is responsible for housing in that particular geographical area; in Skegness, it would be East Lindsey district council.
Mark Simmonds: I am not quite sure what point the hon. Gentleman is making. The responsible local authority would be the one in which the social housing is located.
Mark Simmonds: I thank my hon. Friend for his helpful intervention, and agree with him that responsibility to decide must rest with the local authority to which the individual applies. The point made by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) certainly does not undermine my support of new clause 3.
Mark Simmonds: No; I have given way many times already to the hon. Gentleman. I should like to speak to later groups of amendments.
Mark Simmonds: Will the Minister give way?
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to allow 12 to 13-year-old pupils to drop history and geography as part of the curriculum.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the gaming review.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase the provision of dentistry and the number of dentists in (a) Lincolnshire and (b) Boston and Skegness.
Mark Simmonds: I wish to put on the record the fact that I agree with some of the policies that the Government have put into operation since they came to power in 1997. I agree wholeheartedly with the literacy and numeracy strategies, although initially they were too prescriptive. I also agree that some funding should go directly to schools and not via the LEAs. I welcome the adjustments that the Government...
Mark Simmonds: I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. As she well knows, the Conservative party is undergoing a policy review, and I hope to make my own contribution in my own personal way. However, not only am I making suggestions to those on my Front Bench, but I hope that Ministers will listen to them because to date, since May 1997, many of them have not been picked up sufficiently by the...
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the (a) recruitment and retention of university staff and (b) total funding figures for universities in England and Wales per university for the last five years.
Mark Simmonds: I am grateful to Mr. Speaker for granting me the debate and to you, Mr. Hancock, for allowing me to start so promptly. I also thank the Minister for being here to reply to the debate. There have been several similar debates during the past few weeks and I anticipate that she will be kept busy responding to further debates in the forthcoming months as health care in the United Kingdom...
Mark Simmonds: I should like to clarify the matter. The Minister is correct in saying that the recent incident at Skegness hospital was an isolated one. However, nurses' representative and nurses I have met from Pilgrim hospital, Boston are worried about the constant stream of not only verbal abuse, but often physical abuse, particularly in the accident and emergency department late on Friday and Saturday...
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to recruit (a) general consultants and (b) consultants in neurology in rural areas.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what discussions he has had with Central Trains about providing an improved service between Grantham and Skegness.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations govern (a) the export of game, and (b) compensation for game exporters whose business was affected by foot and mouth.