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Peter_luff_mpHerewith some interesting recent early day motions.

Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff put down EDM 676 to call on the Government to make business rate relief for small businesses automatic:

"That this House notes with concern that business rate relief is not taken up by over half of those small businesses eligible to claim it; further notes that as a result small businesses are losing out on saving up to £2,500 yearly; further notes that across the country around £400 million earmarked for rate relief to be paid to small businesses is returned to the Treasury; and calls on the Government to support the Small Business Rate Relief (Automatic Payment) Bill."

Mr Luff is promoting this Bill, backed by the Federation of Small Businesses. It was presented to Parliament on 21 January (there was no debate). In 2007 the Welsh Assembly made such payments automatic in Wales. This seems like a thoroughly worthwhile move.

Romford MP and Shadow Home Affairs Minister Andrew Rosindell is fan of the EDM medium. Number 705, which he tabled, refers to British relations with the Maori people:

"That this House is proud to join the people of New Zealand in celebrating Waitangi Day, their national day, on 6 February 2009, commemorating the historic signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, that marks the coming together of the Maori people and representatives of the British Crown; notes the importance of maintaining strong links between the United Kingdom and New Zealand; recognises the strong historic bond and shared heritage, longstanding trading relationships and deeply intertwined cultural, educational and military ties between the peoples of these two great allies and Commonwealth members who share Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State and Sovereign; and urges the Government to continue to foster and strengthen the special relationship that binds these two nations together."

Esher and Walton MP Ian Taylor tabled EDM 693, which is about VAT:

"That this House recognises the problems facing small and medium-sized businesses and their employees in the current economic downturn; is concerned at the difficulties in obtaining loans and refinancing from banks; calls on the Government to recognise that the imposition of penalties for late payment of value added tax by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can cause businesses to fail; and further calls on the Government to issue guidelines to HMRC to assess the impact of such penalty payments on the business and, where necessary, agree a phased payment plan to prevent bankruptcy and loss of jobs."Newark MP Patrick Mercer, who is a former Shadow Defence Secretary and Army Colonel, put down EDM 686 on Afghanistan:

"That this House believes it is important that the public should know about the experiences of our armed forces abroad and their dedication to the difficult tasks they face; welcomes the new series of Sky One’s Ross Kemp: return to Afghanistan and the role it plays in raising awareness of the challenges faced by United Kingdom troops in the Helmand province; and congratulates Sky One for commissioning a second series of this educational and informative piece of broadcasting."

Mike Penning is another former soldier. He is now MP for Hemel Hempstead and a Shadow Health Minister. His EDM, number 681, is about knife crime:

"That this House applauds the work undertaken by the not-for-profit organisation Kids Count and associated bodies in raising awareness of issues affecting young people’s lives and giving children a voice to determine and influence their own future; notes the continued authority of the publication Knife Crime: Bringing the voice of the street to the House, which draws attention to the serious issue of knife crime among young people; commends the fact that this research draws on grass-roots initiatives and evidence collated over a two-year period; and calls on the Government to consider carefully the matters raised therein."

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