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Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2009

Planning and Development (Sutton)

I present this petition on behalf of many thousands of my constituents and my local authority, the London borough of Sutton. The petition seeks protection for garden land from the rapacious appetite of developers.

Garden land is precious. It gives character to an area, it provides opportunities for leisure, and it is good for local wildlife. Once garden land is developed, it exposes the neighbourhood to greater air pollution from cars, increased risk of opportunistic burglary and a loss of wildlife habitat. The Government have at last announced a review of planning policy that designates garden land as brownfield land—a long overdue review.

The petition of my constituents states:

To the House of Commons

The Petition of residents living in Belmont, Cheam, Sutton, Stoneleigh and Worcester Park in the London Borough of Sutton, and others,

Declares that the quality of life of residents is harmed by the designation of garden land as brownfield land, because it allows inappropriate development to take place. Suburban back gardens have ecological, environmental and social value that should be protected from unwanted development.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls upon Her Majesty's Government to change planning policy guidance and planning law to allow local councils to develop and implement planning policies that protect private gardens from development which is out of character with the surrounding area.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


Northern Rock

This petition is one of many involving Northern Rock shareholders. The issue is almost becoming an omnibus; there have been several such petitions, and I have no doubt that there will be more.

I have not always seen eye to eye with all the Northern Rock shareholders, and I want to make my position plain. They have been very critical of the Government, but I do not accept that they should be. The Government did not ask for the Northern Rock situation, but they had to deal with it.

However, one has to feel sympathy for people who believe that they are going to lose most or all of their savings, and I most certainly do. The directors of Northern Rock, not its shareholders, led to the current situation. The shareholders are worried about how the valuation was done when the company was no longer liquid. They believe that that will lead them to suffer an injustice and unfairness. I have faith in the Government, who have tried to do the right thing by everyone involved in Northern Rock. Nevertheless, I have described the feelings of the petitioners. All they are asking for is fairness and justice, and no one in this place would want to object to that. I hope that the Secretary of State and the Government will take notice of what seems to me to be a heartfelt plea. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your consideration in arranging this spot for me under somewhat unusual circumstances.

The petition states:

The Petition of small shareholders and supporters of Northern Rock of the Sunderland North constituency in the North East of England,

Declares that it welcomes the acknowledgement by the Government that it must pay compensation for nationalising Northern Rock plc, but that the terms of reference for the valuation of the shares are wrongly based as the company was not in administration and was still a 'going concern'.

Further declares that if these terms are unchanged there will not be a fair compensation payment which will lead to many in our region having their savings and pensions undermined which in turn will have a negative impact on the North East's economy.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls on the Government to reconsider the terms of reference given to the valuer so that he can fully reflect the true value of Northern Rock shares.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.