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Chicken farm, Rushden, Northamptonshire

Volume 656: debated on Tuesday 12 March 2019

My second petition is signed by thousands of my constituents. The lead petitioner is Mr Roger Barnes, from the organisation Cluck Off. I fully support the petition. You may remember, Madam Deputy Speaker, that we had this petition before. Unfortunately, the developer has come back again. He has not learnt his lesson and he needs to learn it tonight.

The petition states:

The Humble Petition of residents of Rushden, Northamptonshire and the surrounding area,


That the Petitioners believe that the proposed Bedfordia Farms planning application for a high intensity chicken farm be refused on the grounds of increased pollution, foul odour, effect on local house prices, increased traffic volume; and further that similar farms have a poor record on animal welfare.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Communities and Local Government, Northamptonshire County Council and East Northamptonshire Council to take in account the concerns of petitioners and refuse to grant the planning application for a high intensity chicken farm to Bedfordia Farms.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc.


On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I rise to ask your opinion and to try to get some advice about what recourse a Member of this House might have if another Member has deliberately or inadvertently misrepresented them on social media. Earlier today, the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) posted that I called Scotland “a principality”. That simply is not true. At the time, I was chuntering about Wales and its constitutional status—which was a subject in a Westminster Hall debate a number of weeks ago—but I was certainly not referring to Scotland in the debate. Constitutional matters are ones that we on the Government side of the House regularly disagree with the Scottish National party about, and I think there is enough for us to disagree about on facts and substantive debates. I was not allowed to speak in the previous debate and I was not allowed to intervene, so I ask you, Madam Deputy Speaker, about the recourse that can be had and about how to make sure that the record is clear that I did not say that about Scotland. Actually, we should focus on facts and substance in our debate, where the Conservative party and the SNP have plenty to disagree about.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me advance notice of his point of order. I have come to expect some strange remarks from him, but even I was surprised at what I heard in the Chamber earlier on. I did see my colleagues who were also irked and many of them confirmed that they also had heard “Scotland”, but I hear what he says. I do wish that he would be as rigorous in representing his Ochil and South Perthshire constituents’ remain vote as he is in defending his running down of Scotland in this Chamber. [Interruption.]

The hon. Gentlemen concerned will appreciate that this is not a matter for the Chair, except in so far as the veracity and truthfulness of anything that is said and reported in this Chamber is a matter of concern for everyone in the Chamber and for the Chair. If there has been a misunderstanding about what one hon. Member has been reported as saying, which has been repeated—but, I take it, without malice—by another hon. Member, I am pleased that there has been an opportunity through points of order to clear up the misunderstanding. I am quite certain that nobody who is reasonably well educated in any way whatsoever would refer to Scotland as “a principality”.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Just to bring the House back together in a spirit of unity, on behalf of SNP Members, can I wish the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross) all the very best? I know that this is on Twitter and that was the subject of the point of order earlier, but the hon. Gentleman has had to return home because his wife has gone into labour. He was unable to make tonight’s vote, but I am sure that all of us in the House would wish him and his family all the best for the next 24 hours or so.

Once again, it is always very pleasant when we have a point of order that is not a point of order but which is a point that the entire Chamber is very happy to note. We all look forward to good news coming from Moray in the very near future. I am sure that the lady in question will wish it to be sooner rather than later, and we all send our congratulations.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Today, a number of visitors came to see me with different constituency issues, health issues and things that I hoped to help them with. They made me aware that the security today had only one line open and not two. I said, “Is that because the other line was broken?” They said, “No, it is not. It is because they did not have enough security staff there to facilitate both security lines.” The result of all that was that a large number of people were in the queue outside; it was unbelievably long and there was heavy rain, as you, I and everybody in the Chamber knows. Were you aware of that situation, Madam Deputy Speaker? If so, I seek your guidance on how we can ensure that it does not happen tomorrow. The weather hopefully will not be the same tomorrow, but let us hope that it does not happen.

I appreciate the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. It is very serious. I have noted the point and I will make sure that it is duly passed on to those who are concerned with it, but as a matter of principle, it is better not to discuss the intricacies of security matters on the Floor of the House. I thank the hon. Gentleman.