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Point of Order

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2007

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance about an apparent breach of planning law by two Ministers and our ability to question them in the House. Last June, Government inspectors removed plans for a large development in my constituency, just north of Harlow, as part of the draft east of England plan. The Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, the hon. Member for Harlow (Bill Rammell), denounced that decision. However, I now understand that, on 13 July 2006, he privately met the Minister for Housing and Planning, in clear breach of the Government’s planning policy statement 11, which says that such representations

“would undermine the examination process and be prejudicial to other participants.”

That meeting has proved to be prejudicial, for on 19 December, on the day the House rose, the Government reversed the inspector’s decisions, as the Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning sought. My constituents believe that both Ministers breached the regulations, making the whole east of England plan liable to legal challenge. Given that, yesterday, Government officials refused to release the papers for that meeting, can you advise me, Sir, on how I, on behalf of my constituents, can hold both Ministers to account?

It is not directly a matter for me, but the hon. Gentleman can pursue these matters through parliamentary questions and by seeking Adjournment debates. Of course, parliamentary questions can be written and oral, and he can challenge the Ministers during oral questions in their slot on the Floor of the House. Those are ways in which he could pursue the matter.