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Volume 666: debated on Monday 14 October 2019


Monday 14 October 2019


Cabinet Office

Proroguing Parliament

The petition of Residents of York,

Declares their deep concern over the proroguing of Parliament, not least during the crucial time of determining the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union; further that we believe that our democratically elected Parliament must have the right to set and thereby scrutinise the Government over the determinations that it is making over our future, in order to resolve democratically how it should proceed since we believe that the UK Parliament was elected by the people to serve the people.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government not to prorogue Parliament and that Parliament sits, debates and scrutinises the Government until a final agreement is made on how to proceed with our relationship with the EU, and that this is concluded democratically.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Rachael Maskell , Official Report, 9 September 2019; Vol. 664, c. 5P.]


Observations from the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Kevin Foster):

Prorogation is a prerogative Act of the Crown, exercised on the advice of Ministers, to bring about the end of the parliamentary Session. The royal prerogative is the term used to describe the powers held by Government Ministers, either in their own right, or through the advice they provide to the Queen. The Government determine the length of a parliamentary Session and advises the Queen on the date for the beginning of the next parliamentary Session.

The beginning of the next Session is marked by the State Opening of Parliament during which the Queen delivers the Queen’s Speech. The Queen’s Speech sets out the programme of legislation the Government intend to pursue in the forthcoming parliamentary session.

In regards to the Prorogation, at all times the Government acted in good faith and in the belief it's approach was both lawful and constitutional. These are complex matters on which senior and distinguished lawyers have disagreed. The Divisional Court led by the Lord Chief Justice agreed unanimously, as did the Outer House in Scotland.

We were disappointed that in the end the Supreme Court took a different view, but we respect the judgment of the Court.

As the Government have made clear on many occasions, this has been the longest parliamentary Session for almost 400 years, but in recent months it has been one of the least productive. This Government want to put before MPs a proper legislative programme, focusing on helping the NHS, fighting violent crime, investing in infrastructure and science, and cutting the cost of living. This is why the Prime Minister has requested of Her Majesty the Queen that the current parliamentary Session be brought to an end on Tuesday 8 October. The second Session of this Parliament is due to commence with a Queen’s Speech on Monday 14 October.


Proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges south of Northampton

The petition of Residents of the constituencies of South Northamptonshire and Daventry,

Declares that the sites for the two proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges between the villages of Blisworth, Milton Malsor, Collingtree and Roade in Northamptonshire, either side of the Northampton Loop Line as it branches from the West Coast Main Line to the south of Northampton, to be unsuitable; notes that the West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy has previously excluded these sites from industrial development; further that the local road network, including the M1, A43, A45, A5, and A508, is operating at or above capacity, and that development at the proposed sites would exacerbate existing problems of traffic, air pollution, and noise, and impose additional visual blight; further it has not been demonstrated by the developers or Network Rail that there is the existing capacity on the West Coast Main Line to provide requisite freight paths for either and/or both of the sites; further that the existing Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal, which is coterminous in catchment with the two proposed sites, has recently expanded and has extensive unused capacity; and further that two local petitions on behalf of Stop Rail Central and Stop Roxhill Northampton Gateway against the two proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges have received over 17,500 signatures and the overwhelming view of the local community is that neither proposal is acceptable.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to press upon the Secretary of State for Transport the great many concerns that residents of the constituencies of South Northamptonshire and Daventry have about the two proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges, and to not grant Development Consent Orders for either proposal.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Official Report, 3 September 2019; Vol. 664, c. 1P.]


Observations from the Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Maynard):

In relation to the application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the Northampton Gateway Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI), the Planning Inspectorate provided the Department with the Examining Authority's Report of Findings and Conclusions and Recommendation on 9 July 2019. The Secretary of State notes the issues raised in this petition and will make a decision on the application by the 9 October 2019, taking account of all relevant representations.

The application for a DCO by Rail Central is currently being considered by the Planning Inspectorate.

Under the Planning Act 2008, the final decision to approve DCOs for any new proposed development rests with the Secretary of State, who would therefore be unable to comment on individual applications.

The National Policy Statement for National Networks (NN-NPS) sets out government policy on the development of Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges.