Mr. Anthony Steen, supported by Clare Short, Sir Michael Spicer, Michael Connarty, Sir Paul Beresford, Dr. Evan Harris, Keith Vaz, Mr. Peter Bone and Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mr. Peter Luff, Mr. Angus Robertson and Lady Sylvia Hermon, presented a Bill to introduce a national day to raise awareness of the need to eradicate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation; and for connected purposes.
Alistair Burt, supported by Mr. David Drew, Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mr. Martin Caton, Joan Walley, Dr. Brian Iddon, Tom Levitt, Julia Goldsworthy, Mr. Oliver Heald, Robert Neill and Mr. Nick Hurd, presented a Bill to amend the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 to make provision regarding town and parish councils, local decision-making and expenditure and the consideration of proposals; and for connected purposes.
John Smith, supported by John Barrett, Mr. Elfyn Llwyd, Mr. Martyn Jones, Jim Sheridan, Mr. Desmond Swayne, Sir Nicholas Winterton, Mr. Brian Jenkins and Dr. Richard Taylor, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to propose amendments to Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention for the purpose of extending carrier liability to cases of detriment to health or psychological well-being; and for connected purposes.
Mr. Crispin Blunt, on behalf of Chris Grayling, presented a Bill to empower the Secretary of State to delegate certain powers in respect of safety and conservation to conservators and other specified bodies; and for connected purposes.
Mr. Nigel Dodds, supported by Mr. Peter Robinson, Mr. William Cash, Mr. Ian Davidson, Mr. Mike Hancock, Lady Sylvia Hermon, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, Dr. William McCrea, Bob Spink, Ann Winterton and Sir Nicholas Winterton, presented a Bill to require the holding of a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon and to require the repeal of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 if the decision to ratify is not approved in the referendum; and for connected purposes.
Dr. Richard Taylor, supported by Mr. Kevin Barron, Mr. Graham Brady, Mr. William Cash, Mr. Dai Davies, Frank Dobson, Sandra Gidley, Patrick Hall, Dr. Doug Naysmith, Mr. Robert N. Wareing and Dr. Tony Wright, presented a Bill to make provision for the appointment, functions and powers of independent Support Officers for NHS employees who wish to make certain disclosures in the public interest; to place a duty on NHS trusts and others to co-operate with such Support Officers; to make consequential amendments to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998; and for connected purposes.
Simon Hughes, supported by Lorely Burt, Tim Farron, Lynne Featherstone, Nick Harvey, John Hemming, Paul Holmes, Mr. John Leech, Mr. Adrian Sanders, Andrew Stunell, Stephen Williams and Jenny Willott, presented a Bill to amend the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to enable local planning authorities to use sums received under section 106 of the Act for the building and improvement of housing; and for connected purposes.
Mr. Nigel Waterson, supported by Miss Ann Widdecombe, Andrew Rosindell, Mr. Roger Gale, Paul Flynn, Mr. James Gray, Mr. Denis MacShane, Dr. Nick Palmer and Ann Clwyd, presented a Bill to make provision for residents of care homes and sheltered accommodation to keep domestic pets in certain circumstances; and for connected purposes.
Mr. Douglas Carswell, supported by Philip Davies, Mr. Philip Hollobone, Mr. Peter Bone, Mr Austin Mitchell, Mr. Mike Hancock, Dr. Evan Harris, Mr. Richard Shepherd, Kelvin Hopkins and Ann Winterton, presented a Bill to require the holding of a referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union; and for connected purposes.
Bob Spink presented a Bill to empower the Environment Agency to prevent development on flood plains to which the Agency objects; to require planning authorities
to comply with Environment Agency advice when considering development on flood plains; and for connected purposes.
Mr. Mark Hoban, supported by Mr. Mark Francois, Mr. Mark Prisk, Mr. Paul Goodman, Mr. David Gauke, Mr. Brooks Newmark, Mrs Maria Miller, John Howell and Mr. Charles Walker, presented a Bill to require local authorities to assess the infrastructure needed to support future housing and commercial development and to prepare plans for its provision; and for connected purposes.
David Cairns presented a Bill to make provision to oblige shipping companies, port operators and other bodies to comply with recommendations made in reports of the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents and of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch; and for connected purposes.
Mr. David Heath presented a Bill to make provision for a dedicated school bus network; to amend the duties
of Local Education Authorities to provide school transport; to improve the safety of users of school transport; and for connected purposes.
Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We have just heard a lot of hon. Members presenting private Members' Bills and, with the exception of the last Member, giving dates for Second Reading when the House has not yet been given any dates when Second Readings are to be available. How can that be in order? How can Members know that they will actually be able to debate their business on that day?
Mr. Speaker: That is a matter for the Government, as I think the hon. Gentleman knows. I think it would be accurate to say that he is engaged in a continuing altercation with the Government on this important matter. Once again, he has taken the opportunity to register firmly on the record his disapproval of the Government's handling of the matter.
Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is not the fact that the consideration of private Members' Bills is a matter for the Government rather than the House an illustration of why we need an early debate on the proposals from the Wright Committee?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman is taking the opportunity to instigate a debate. As he knows, I have myself indicated on previous occasions a desire that the matters to which he has referred should come before the House before very long. After the festive season, I have no reason to suppose that he will be disappointed.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): I want to raise a matter concerning work that is being undertaken on parts of the M6 motorway in my constituency. I am doing so because I am very disappointed that the Highways Agency has not shown proper regard and consideration for my constituents, whose properties are virtually next to the motorway. Graham Dalton, the chief executive of the Highways Agency, which has authorised the work through the Department for Transport, has now, at long last, visited the borough, some nine months after the work started. Obviously, I expected that he would take the opportunity to visit my constituents, who have been so adversely affected. He knows the position, because during the past nine months I have written to him and faxed letters, sometimes twice or three times a week. Yes, there have been replies, but there has been a reluctance on his part to come and see what is happening.
Another reason for raising this issue on the Floor of the House is that the residents were given no proper notification that the work was going to take place. That is accepted by the agency, which says that it was a mistake. All that happened was that some advertisements were placed in the regional press that residents were unlikely to see. Why were they not told beforehand that the work was going to take place? It is pretty obvious why not-it is because they would have put forward proposals to try to safeguard their position during the various stages of the work. The public liaison officer for the contractors carrying out the work for the Highways Agency has admitted that a mistake was made in not letting people know about this beforehand. He said, interestingly, that nowhere else had they come across properties so close to the carriageway, and obviously they should know because they do a lot of work on motorway construction and repairs.
Hundreds of trees were taken down that had previously acted as a kind of barrier to the motorway, minimising noise and giving some protection for properties that were built before the motorway came into existence some years ago. Since then, the noise has been unbearable. We can only imagine the position of someone who lives just by the motorway where trees and other measures that provided some sort of protection have been taken away. They have to live through it, sometimes during the night as well. I have sent several letters urging that at least night work should not take place, and to some extent that has stopped, but not entirely. That is the nightmare situation-there is no other way to describe it-that several of my constituents have faced during the course of this year.
In April, the chief executive of the Highways Agency wrote to tell me that he admitted that this was wrong and that a public meeting, or "exhibition", as it is described, had not taken place to explain the scheme beforehand. That comes rather late in the day. The work
is started without direct notification to the people concerned, and then, when it is under way and the Member of Parliament undertakes his duties, as anyone else in this House would have done, there is an admission from the chief executive that a public meeting should have been held in the first place. If such a meeting had taken place, the residents would have had their say.
In March, after considerable difficulty, I managed to get an on-site meeting. It is almost impossible to appreciate how difficult that was. The situation involves the publicly funded Highways Agency, the private contractors and the rest, but the Highways Agency, in particular, gave me all kinds of reasons why it would not meet me on the site itself. It was happy to have a meeting with a Member of Parliament, but why should it not be an on-site meeting? It was only as a result of an intervention by the relevant Minister's private office that finally, in March, an on-site meeting took place, which councillors and I went along to. It took a great deal of trouble and effort to get that meeting going.
In the past few weeks, Mr. Dalton, the chief executive of the Highways Agency, told me that he was going to visit the borough. Excellent news-at long last he was going to visit. Then, last week, I got a phone call from his office asking if I would arrange a meeting with him. I said, "We will be meeting, will we not, on the site where the work is taking place?" "Oh no", I was told, "that can't happen. It will be a very brief visit. It's going to take place this coming Monday"-that is, two days ago. So at long last, the chief executive of the Highways Agency decides to come and visit to see what is happening with the work on the motorway-but as for meeting the residents, that is out of the question. The visit must be brief-he is too busy and cannot spare the time. What about my constituents, who have suffered such a nightmare? "Oh well, too bad," seemed to be the attitude. He was willing to meet me and wanted to make an appointment as quickly as possible, but what about meeting my constituents? Hence I decided that it would be right to raise the issue on the Floor of the House. I believe that the action of the Highways Agency has been absolutely despicable. It did not inform the residents beforehand, and for that matter it did not let me know so that I could tell the residents. There was great reluctance even to have the on-site meeting, which finally took place in March, and then the chief executive said that he did not have the time on Monday, when I assume he made a visit, to meet the people concerned.
I have raised the issue and I hope that the Minister will perhaps persuade Mr. Dalton accordingly. I have no criticism of the private office of the Secretary of State for Transport, because there was the on-site meeting in March, which I mentioned, in my constituency arising from all this, which I imagine was due to his intervention. Last week's effort by his private office and civil servants to persuade Mr. Dalton to change his mind came to nothing.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of the Leader of the House of Commons (Barbara Keeley): My hon. Friend should know that he could not be talking to a more sympathetic person, because I am currently struggling in my own constituency with the M60 junction 11 to 15 lane gain. I hope to give him a very sympathetic response later.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Incidentally, it is interesting that Mr. Dalton said that the on-site meeting in March was "helpful and positive".
If it was helpful and positive in March for one of the more junior officials to attend a meeting-perhaps not all that junior, but certainly junior to the chief executive or deputy chief executive-why would not a meeting with the chief executive himself be helpful and positive? The chief executive was not willing to turn up at the meeting in March, and one of his officials got the short straw.
All in all, I hope that Ministers at the Department for Transport will pursue the matter. It could be argued that the chief executive of the Highways Agency has no role in meeting the public, but I argue that in such situations as the M6 work in my constituency and the work that my hon. Friend the Minister described, the chief executive has not acted properly. I am sure that he is an honourable person and does his duties efficiently. I do not question that in any way, but he has been insensitive, to say the least, to the plight of my constituents. That is why I have raised the issue on the Floor of the House.