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.