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Petitions

Volume 709: debated on Monday 21 February 2022

Petitions

Monday 21 February 2022

Observations

Attorney General

Death by dangerous driving

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that Raihan Ahmed caused death by dangerous driving, drove without a licence or insurance and failed to stop at the scene of the crime; notes that the actions of Raihan Ahmed led to the loss of Ghulam Nabi’s life; further that under his current sentence Ahmed could be out on the street in under two years whilst the family and community grieve for the rest of their lives; declares that a longer sentence will act as a greater deterrent to others.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to request that the Attorney General refer the unduly lenient sentence to the Court of Appeal.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Liam Byrne , Official Report, 08 December 2021; Vol. 705, c. 532.]

[P002703]

Observations from the Solicitor General (Alex Chalk):

At the outset, we would like to convey our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Ghulam Nabi.

The Attorney General and the Solicitor General have the power to refer unduly lenient sentences passed in respect of certain offences to the Court of Appeal for review. The Court of Appeal will only grant permission to refer a sentence in exceptional circumstances, for example if the judge has made some gross error, or has passed a sentence that falls outside the range of sentences which a judge, applying their mind to all the relevant factors, could reasonably consider appropriate The bar to increasing a sentence is a very high one.

The offences which fall within the scheme are prescribed by Parliament in legislation. When offences do fall within the unduly lenient sentence scheme, any referral to the Court of Appeal must be made within 28 days. This is a strict time limit which cannot be extended.

The Attorney General’s Office received a request to review this sentence on 11 November 2021. The Solicitor General carefully considered this case and concluded that there was no proper basis upon which a referral to the Court of Appeal could be sustained. The Solicitor General was mindful that the sentence was within the appropriate range prescribed in the applicable sentencing guideline. The offender was entitled to credit for his plea and this was properly applied by the judge. The Solicitor General appreciates that sentences deemed to be within a reasonable range from a legal perspective may not be considered appropriate by victims of crime or members of the public. However, the test for undue leniency is so strictly applied that it would have been wrong to refer this case after having concluded that the very high threshold for a referral had not been met.

Transport

Proposed spur between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that, whilst welcoming the £760 million that the Government are investing in East-West Rail and the 1,500 jobs it will create, petitioners remain concerned that the funding announcement did not commit to the completion of the proposed spur between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, which was originally conceived as part of the project; further that Aylesbury rail links consist only of a slow railway line to and from London and a single-track railway to and from Princes Risborough; further that if towns like Aylesbury are to both expand and to meet the net zero target of 2050 it is vital that the Government build sustainable transport links and improve connectivity; and further that excluding Aylesbury from the direct benefits of this project risks the town missing out on the levelling up of transport infrastructure and hampering potential economic growth.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to consider the concerns of petitioners and commit to the completion of the proposed spur between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

And the petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Rob Butler, Official Report, 1 February 2022; Vol. 708, c. 255.]

[P002708]

Observations from the Minister of State, Department for Transport (Wendy Morton):

The Department for Transport is continuing to assess the business case for—and affordability of—delivering a spur of East-West Rail which would enable a rail connection from Aylesbury to Bletchley/Milton Keynes. This will need to take account of the impact of its 2021 Spending Review Settlement, as well as the need to understand the likely long-term demand for rail transport following the covid-19 pandemic.

Ministers will provide a more detailed update on the Aylesbury spur of East-West Rail when further decisions have been taken on the overall East-West Rail scheme.

Government are committed to investing in the Aylesbury area. This is demonstrated by the £12 million Government funding for the South East Aylesbury Link Road through the Local Growth Fund (LGF), and the £170 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) for the Aylesbury Garden Village. Both projects have substantial sustainable transport elements that will benefit the local area with cleaner cycling and walking projects. The Department for Transport is currently working closely with Buckinghamshire Council on these key schemes.

Ministers are committed to improving the sustainability of transport across the entire United Kingdom as a part of the plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. These include investing £2 billion in cycling and walking, with an ambition for half of all journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030; and investing £3 billion to deliver the National Bus Strategy to support the delivery of 4,000 new zero-emission buses and their supporting infrastructure.