Examination of Witnesses (Questions 5000
5000. CHAIRMAN: I am sorry if you find
it very difficult. We do not intend it to be difficult.
5001. MRS BRAWNE: Thank you for your
helpful way of dealing with this. It is extremely helpful.
5002. CHAIRMAN: Have you finished?
5003. MRS BRAWNE: I shall remember how
kindly I was treated here!
5004. CHAIRMAN: We have been trying to
get the members of the community in Spitalfields to tell us what
their problems are and to give them an opportunity of asking questions
of the witnesses, especially the experts. I am bound to say, we
have found it very disappointing that so little opportunity has
been taken of what we have offered. Now, if communications are
faulty, I believe that we have done our best to make it clear
when things are going to happen, in fact I know we have, and all
I regret is that, if at the end of the passage of this Committee
which deals with Spitalfields there are points that have not been
addressed, I am afraid it is not going to be our fault because
we have given you the opportunity and very largely it has not
5005. MRS BRAWNE: Can I just put a question
to you? As I understand it, the only people who have come are
people who have put in Petitions. Now, the issue about putting
in a formal Petition is almost beyond the ability of most of the
people who live in Spitalfields. We have offered the help that
we have to other people. Now, if it was now and the people could
turn up here without having submitted a Petition and the meetings
were held in such a way that questions could be asked, you would
have a full house, let me assure you. Now, am I to understand
that anyone can turn up from Spitalfields and ask questions at
5006. CHAIRMAN: What is the question?
5007. MRS BRAWNE: I do not know what
the question is. That is my point.
5008. CHAIRMAN: What is your question
5009. MRS BRAWNE: My question is: is
it possible for people who have not put in a Petition to come
and ask questions?
5010. CHAIRMAN: No, it is not.
5011. MRS BRAWNE: So you are saying that
you must be educationally advanced enough to write a very formal
Petition and, if English is not your first language, if you have
difficulty in writing a Petition, if you have difficulty in paying
for 16 copies of everything you do and if you cannot cope with
the formal procedure, then you have no right to say how this is
going to affect your life in Spitalfields?
5012. CHAIRMAN: Will you have the civility
to listen to me for a minute please?
5013. MRS BRAWNE: Yes, if you listen
5014. CHAIRMAN: I am listening. Only
the people who have put in Petitions can actually appear formally,
but those who have put in Petitions, particularly if they come
from large groups, can call as witnesses members of those groups
or indeed other people who live in the locality. There is no difficulty
about it. They can easily do it. That surely would solve that
5015. MRS BRAWNE: You say if we call
in experts. I am not talking about experts. I am talking about
Mr and Mrs Meer whose children go to those schools. They are not
experts. They are ordinary mums and dads with children. I am talking
about ordinary people who live there with no particular expertise,
just the people who are going to be affected by that. Now, I am
not saying that the only people affected by what is being proposed
are experts. It is the ordinary man and woman in the street who
are being affected and it is not possible for those people to
turn up unless, in your terms, they have some expertise. Do I
understand you correctly?
5016. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: Let
me give you an example. Mr Haque, whom I know because we met him
on the streets, representing a group of people whose first language
is likely to be Bangladeshi, is going to be, or was going to be,
one of their representatives. He knows when the hearings are taking
place. We are still at this point in the proceedings trying to
establish when Mr Haque is going to, or if he is going to, come.
When and if he comes, he can bring along with him the very kind
of people to whom you have referred, to be, if you like, ordinary
representatives, just as Ms Cove could have brought people along
with her if she had felt that that would have made the case, so
you have had opportunities. You are not denied by the formality
and you do not have to write a Petition. As long as your representatives
on your community or residents' associations who are acting as
the spokespersons, and, if I were doing that job, and I chair
my residents' association and I have attended a formal hearing
querying a planning application and I made sure that the ordinary
residents who had an interest, a direct interest, rather than
myself who was a bit removed from it, were there at the meeting
with me and had an opportunity to speak, so I just really feel
that you are wrong in your assessment that there is no opportunity
for ordinary people to make their case. There is, but it does
rely on your community representatives taking the opportunity.
They need to be there. If they cannot make it, they need to ensure
they have somebody else who is there speaking on their behalf.
On any point, however minor, that has been raised, and I want
to return to one of the points that Ms Jordan made, there is not
anybody on here who does not want to see justice for Spitalfields'
residents, but the point the Chairman is trying to make is sometimes
it is quite hard to do this if none of your representatives are
here and none of your representatives and your expert have taken
the trouble to involve their own local community or lay residents.
That is the point I wanted to get across and I think the Chairman
was trying to reassure you. It is a formal procedure, but nobody,
and you are a good example, in the final analysis is being stopped
from making a contribution.
5017. MRS BRAWNE: Can I apologise if
I have hurt anyone's feelings, I certainly did not mean to, but
it comes from many years of trying to communicate with these committees,
both in the other place and here, and I am sorry if we had not
responded as we should have but I think you understand our difficulties
now and we understand your difficulty, so let us see this as a
verging operation between us, yes?
5018. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: Yes.
5019. CHAIRMAN: I think that would be
very helpful but there is a shortage of time. We have to get on