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House of Commons Hansard
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Petitions
01 March 2010
Volume 506

Petitions

Monday 1 March 2010

Observations

Children, Schools and Families

Badman Report (Skipton and Ripon)

The Petition persons resident in Skipton and Ripon,

Declares that they are concerned about the recommendations of the Badman Report, which suggests closer monitoring of home educators, including a compulsory annual registration scheme and right of access to people’s homes for local authority officials; further declares that the Petitioners believe the recommendations are based on a review that was extremely rushed, failed to give due consideration to the evidence, failed to ensure that the data it collected were sufficiently robust, and failed to take proper account of the existing legislative framework.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families either not to bring forward, or to withdraw, proposed legislative measures providing for tighter registration and monitoring of children educated at home in the absence of a thorough independent inquiry into the condition and future of elective home education in England; but instead to take the steps necessary to ensure that the existing Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities are properly implemented, learning from current best practice, in all local authorities in England.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. Graham Stuart, Official Report, 8 December 2009; Vol. 502, c. 268 .]

[P000590]

Petitions in the same terms were presented by the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) [P000720]; the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Clegg) [P00724]; the hon. Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin)[P00728]; and the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) [P000735];

Petitions in the same terms were also presented from persons resident in the following constituencies: Solihull [P000710]; Richmond, Yorks [P000711]; and Bury St. Edmunds [P000727].

Observations from the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families:

DCSF commissioned the Badman review of home education in January 2009 and the report was published on 11 June 2009. As part of the review, Graham Badman took written and oral evidence from a range of individuals and organisations who responded to his public call for evidence, including home educators and local authorities. Alongside this he also considered published literature, the current legal position and guidance and the approaches taken in other countries. He was assisted by an expert reference group. I am confident that his report draws from a wide and heterogeneous evidence base.

The Children, Schools and Families Select Committee also considered the Badman report and was supportive of most of the recommendations. It agreed that a short statement of educational approach would be helpful in establishing dialogue between home educating families and local authorities; that an annual meeting between local authorities and home educators was needed; and that better support for home educators and better training for local authorities would together lead to an improvement on the current arrangements.

Home Education registration and monitoring proposals are included in the Children, Schools and Families Bill which passed Third Reading in the House of Commons on 23 February 2010 and was introduced into the House of Lords on 24 February. The proposals will put in place light touch regulation and monitoring arrangements and our guidance will make it clear that this will be proportionate and focused on support and encouragement for home educating families. We have also committed around £21 million in the first year to additional support for home educating families, which has a focus on children with SEN and home educated children who would like to attend FE College courses.

Home education is an established part of the British education system and the vast majority of home educators who do a good job will find monitoring supportive and—for the first time—backed by real resources. Our reforms will not require home educators to adopt a particular approach, to teach a specific curriculum, or for their children to take SATs tests or specific public examinations. After these reforms are implemented, England will remain one of the most liberal countries in the developed world for home educators to live in.

Communities and Local Government

Incinerators (Tatton)

The Petition of Stop Incinerators in Disguise (S.I.D) in the constituency of Tatton in Cheshire,

Declares that they want to stop the building of an incinerator (Waste Treatment Plant) at New Cheshire Business Park in Wincham.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State responsible for local government to put pressure on the local authority to reject the plans to build an incinerator in the area.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. George Osborne, Official Report, 10 February 2010; Vol. 505, c. 8P .]

[P000730]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware that a planning application has been submitted to Cheshire West and Chester council in respect of the above development. He is advised that the application was registered on 19 November 2009.

Cheshire West and Chester borough council are responsible for the day to day planning control in their area, and the Secretary of State cannot comment on the merits or otherwise of any application. The Government’s policy is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of a local planning authority unless it is necessary to do so. This is because local authority councillors are elected to represent the views of local people and, in the main, it is these councillors who are in the best position to decide whether a development should go ahead. It is, of course, for local planning authorities to provide whatever justification it may be appropriate to give for their decisions and procedures.

In determining a planning application the local planning authority, who have full knowledge of the local circumstances, are required to have regard to all material considerations including the development plan, national policies and views expressed by third parties.

The Secretary of State might decide to call-in the application for his own determination if he considers that it raises matters of more than local importance, but his policy is to be very selective about this. As it is possible that this proposal may, at some future date, come within his jurisdiction, it would be inappropriate to comment on the issues raised in the petition.

Planning and Development (Essex)

The Petition of David Head, residents of Daws Heath, Hadleigh, Thundersley and others,

Declares that we object to the proposed housing estate planned for the green land bounded by Stadium Way, Rayleigh Road and Daws Heath Road; deplore that proper public consultation has not been undertaken; believe that our green belt is sacrosanct; it provides wildlife habitat, leisure opportunities, a green lung function and acts as a buffer between densely populated urban areas. The sheer size of the proposed development of up to 750 houses would be catastrophic and out of character with the area. Infrastructure, including roads, sewers, school places, dentists, youth facilities and much else are insufficient even without the additional houses. And we note that our neighbouring councillors, unlike Castle Point Councillors, have consulted their residents widely and have voted against green belt development; further note that the Government have stated green belt should not be built upon; therefore urge Castle Point Councillors to consult the public before they vote to destroy our environment and quality of life.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government first to change their policy on housing targets and secondly to urge Castle Point Borough Councillors to consult residents before voting on their plans and to reject building on the green belt in order to protect the quality of life of all residents.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Bob Spink, Official Report, 18 November 2008; Vol. 483, c. 207 .]

[P000290]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware that Castle Point Borough Council has identified the site bounded by Stadium Way, Rayeligh Road and Daws Heath Road within the Local Plan for the potential for a housing development of up to 750 dwellings.

There is no current planning application in with Castle Point Borough Council for determination which would be primarily the responsibility of the Borough Council as local planning authority, and the Secretary of State cannot comment on the merits or otherwise of any application, or prospective application.

Decisions on planning applications are required to be in accordance with the adopted development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The Government’s statements of national planning policy, such as Planning Policy Statement 9, Biodiversity and Geological Conservation, are material considerations which must be taken into account, where relevant, in planning decisions, but it is the responsibility of the local planning authority to identify and weigh up all the different issues, in the context of the specific local circumstances, having regard to the views of local residents and other interested parties.

The Secretary of State may decide to call in an application for his own determination where he considers that it raises issues of more than local importance, but his policy is to be very selective about this. As it is possible that a proposal may, at some future date come within his jurisdiction, it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter raised in the petition.