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19 July 2011 : Column 7P

Petitions

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Presented Petitions

Petition presented to the House but not read on the Floor

Development (Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire)

The Humble Petition of residents of Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire and the surrounding areas


Sheweth,


that the Petitioners believe that the application to build 115 new houses at the north end of Station road in Higham Ferrers will put intolerable pressure on public services and local infrastructure, in particular the A6/A45 junction at Chowns Mill which is already severely congested, pressure on already overcrowded schools, demands on public transport which is already inadequate, additional burdens on the already hard pressed on the local NHS; that the application should not be approved until significant improvements have been made in local infrastructure.


Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to liaise with Secretary of State for Transport and East Northamptonshire District Council and Higham Ferrers Parish Council to find a solution to the overdevelopment of Higham Ferrers and lack of infrastructure.


And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mr Peter Bone .]

[P000949]


Ethiopia (Human Rights)

The Petition of Ethiopian refugees resident in Britain,


Declares that more than one third of Ethiopia’s budget consists of foreign aid; notes that Ethiopia has made progress towards achieving some of the UN Millennium Development Goals; notes that the Petitioners believe that there is a systemic disregard for human rights by the Ethiopian Government; and notes with concern the systemic violation of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution and guaranteed in UN conventions to which Ethiopia is signatory, in particular: detention without fair trial of political opponents and critics of the Government; politically motivated extra-judicial killings; routine torture and rape of detainees; crimes against humanity committed by Ethiopian forces in the Somali region and in Gambella, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region; discriminatory distribution of state assistance, including internationally-funded aid; forced relocation of farmers and pastoralists for the benefit of local and foreign investors; restriction on the activities of civil society, and surveillance and harassment of refugees in the diaspora.


The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to withdraw unconditional political and financial support to the Ethiopian Government and to exert effective diplomatic pressure on the Ethiopian Government to: release or

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subject to fair trial by independent judiciary all political detainees; investigate and punish those responsible for the killing, torture and rape of perceived political opponents, and repeal or amend the Charities and Societies Proclamation and take positive steps to encourage independent civil society, democratic pluralism and a culture of respect for human rights in Ethiopia.


And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Malcolm Bruce .]

[P000950]

Observations

Transport

Bus Service (Little Harrowden, Northamptonshire)

The Humble Petition of residents of Little Harrowden, Northamptonshire and the surrounding areas,


Sheweth


That the decision by Stagecoach bus company to eliminate most the bus services between Little Harrowden and Wellingborough due to cut backs in subsidy from Northamptonshire County Council has led to considerable hardship to the old, disabled, vulnerable and young in isolating the village from Wellingborough and necessitating a difficult and dangerous walk along a busy and partly unlit road.


Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Transport to liaise with Northamptonshire County Council and the Borough Council of Wellingborough to find a resolution that will lead to the Number 24 bus service being re-established between Little Harrowden and Wellingborough.


And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mr Peter Bone , Official Report, 8 June 2011; Vol. 529, c. 246.]

[P000925]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

The Government continue to provide significant funds for local bus services, in Northamptonshire and elsewhere, through bus subsidy for operators and via the national concessionary travel entitlement, which was protected in the Budget. However, it is not the role of central Government to determine which non-commercial bus services should be supported by local transport authorities. These are decisions which must be made locally, in consultation with the public.

I recognise that local councils are making difficult decisions in the light of reductions in revenue support from central Government, but they have almost total discretion about which services to value when budgeting for the future. Certain councils, such as East Riding of Yorkshire Council, have taken the decision to protect bus services and to make efficiencies elsewhere instead.

In many areas, community transport can play a valuable role in preventing isolation among the young, elderly and disabled. I therefore strongly encourage local councils to work in partnership with operators and local communities to examine how more flexible services might be provided. To facilitate this, my Department recently announced a £10 million fund for community transport in rural areas. Northamptonshire County Council

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has received a £209,995 share of this fund, as well as six days of consultancy resource from the Community Transport Association.

Ian Faletto

The Humble Petition of Revd Alex Russell, Vicar of Pennington,


Sheweth that a great injustice has been done by the dismissal of Ian Faletto Stationmaster at Lymington.


Wherefore your Petitioner prays that your Honourable House calls upon the Government to request that South West Trains reconsider their decision in the light of his many years of exemplary service to the public


And your Petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mr Desmond Swayne , Official Report, 5 July 2011; Vol. 530, c. 1480.]

[P000928]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

South West Trains has confirmed to the Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for rail performance and to officials that, following a full and thorough investigation, a South West Trains employee was dismissed for a serious breach of safety. This decision was also upheld at an appeal hearing. The information surrounding this dismissal is confidential and South West Trains is unable to discuss detailed matters involving specific individuals. This matter is entirely for South West Trains to manage and it would be inappropriate for the Secretary of State for Transport to intervene in such employment matters.

Treasury

Barnett Formula

The Petition of residents of Daventry.


Declares that the Petitioners believe that the use of the Barnett Formula in the distribution of Government funds should be replaced with an equal per capita

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distribution for all races in the United Kingdom; notes that the Petitioners believe it to be iniquitous that some parts of the United Kingdom are discriminated against because of race; and further notes that the Petitioners consider that it is wrong to permit such discrimination to be exempted in law.


The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to discontinue the use of the Barnett Formula in the distribution of Government funds and replace it with an equal per capita distribution for all races in the United Kingdom.


And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Chris Heaton-Harris , Official Report, 7 July 2011; Vol. 530, c. 1756.]

[P000935]


Observations from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Treasury:

The Government thank the residents of Daventry for their petition on the use of the Barnett formula.

The Treasury is responsible for the devolved funding arrangements. The details are set out in the Statement of Funding Policy, which was updated in October 2010.

The Government note that the Petitioners request that the House of Commons urges the Government to discontinue the use of the Barnett Formula in the distribution of Government funds and replace it with an equal per capita distribution for all races in the United Kingdom.

The Barnett formula provides the devolved Administrations with a population-based share of comparable changes in spending of UK Government Departments. This ensures that each of the four countries has the same change in comparable spending per head.

The Government recognise the concerns expressed on the system of devolution funding. However, at this time, the priority must be to reduce the deficit and therefore any change to the system must await the stabilisation of the public finances.