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Petitions

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 8 September 2016

Petitions

Thursday 8 September 2016

Observations

Communities and Local Government

Private rented sector in Dulwich and West Norwood

The petition of Alper Muduroglu,

Declares that tenants in the private rented sector in Dulwich and West Norwood have to pay high fees to letting agents; further that there is no limit to the amount lettings agents can charge; further that the Government should take action to address the difficulties faced by tenants in the private rented sector, particularly in London; and notes that an online petition on a similar matter has been signed by 1,480 individuals.

The petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to consider capping the fees that letting agents are permitted to charge.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Helen Hayes , Official Report, 28 June 2016; Vol. 612, c. 268 .]

[P001699]

Observations from The Minister for Housing and Planning (Gavin Barwell):

The Government are committed to raising standards in this industry. They believe that ensuring full transparency is the best way to do so, giving consumers the information they need so that they do not pay unfair fees, while supporting good letting agents.

Since 1 October 2014, all lettings agents and property managers in England have been required to join one of the three Government approved redress schemes. This requirement means that tenants and landlords with agents in the private rented sector and leaseholders and freeholders dealing with property managers in the residential sector are able to complain to an independent person about the service they have received, helping to weed out bad agents and property managers and drive up standards.

Since May 2015, letting agents are required to publicise a full tariff of their fees, whether or not they are a member of a client money protection scheme and which redress scheme they are a member of. This information must be displayed prominently in their offices and on their website. A fine of up to £5,000 can be levied against agents who fail to comply. A breakdown of fees enables tenants to compare prices and assess value for money, creating effective competition that should force agents to keep fees fair and strengthening consumer choice. The Government’s view is that with these measures the balance of regulation for letting agents is about right. However, the Government are committed to review their effectiveness and have established a working group with Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town and Lord Palmer of Childs Hill to look at how client money protection is currently operating and whether to do further by making use of the powers in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to make it mandatory. If you would like to contribute your views to this, further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/client-money-protection-cmp-review.

The Government are committed to creating a bigger and better private rented sector, which is easily accessible to current and prospective tenants. We have set up the Private Rented Sector Affordability and Security working group which includes experts from across the PRS and housing sectors to explore options to reduce costs for tenants who access and move within the sector.

The Government have also introduced a package of measures through the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to crackdown on unscrupulous landlords and property agents who exploit their tenants by renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation. This includes a database of rogue landlords and property agents, banning orders for the most prolific and serious offenders, civil penalties of up to £30,000, extended rent repayment orders and a more stringent ‘fit and proper’ person test for landlords applying for a licence. In addition the Government are determined to crack down on landlords who deliberately overcrowd their properties with vulnerable people and illegal migrants by extending mandatory licensing for houses in multiple occupation.

Health

Dr Keilloh and the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the petitioners believe that the decision made by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) to remove Doctor Derek Keilloh from the Medical Practitioners Register was a travesty of justice; further that the petitioners believe that it was not in the public interest to have a community deprived of their so obviously well-loved and much appreciated family doctor; further that the petitioners believe that it is unfair that any appeal against the decision can only be made within 28 days when the doctor has just been deprived of his or her income, and no longer has financial support for legal affairs and is in a state of shock; further that the petitioners call into question why well documented “inattentional blindness” was not taken into consideration during the MPTS hearing; further that the Professional Standards Authority only exists to protect patients and will only investigate Fitness to Practise outcomes if they believe that the sanctions have been too lenient, not if the patients complain that the sanction has been too severe, prejudiced or faulty; further that there is no equivalent body to support the registrants; further that previously a handwritten petition from 1,034 patients and colleagues was sent to the MPTS and to Parliament in 2013 asking for his re-instatement; further that the petitioners have been informed that the new statutory rules governing MPTS procedures “Adjudication Section 60 Order” which were brought about in December 2015 now allow the General Medical Council (GMC) to review the MPTS decisions, the petitioners believe that although it probably cannot be post-dated the new ruling should make a difference in bringing about justice in this case; further that the petitioners believe that the case was prejudiced by the publication of damning articles in the media, some of which quote the MPTS tribunal chairperson as pronouncing Doctor Keilloh guilty even before the commencement of the hearing; further that the petitioners call into question that the MPTS panel of three people was able to strike Doctor Keilloh off on probability which was not beyond reasonable doubt for supposed public interest failing rather than any clinical failing; further that the petitioners believe that the complainant against Doctor Keilloh was Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, a lawyer acting on behalf of complainants not from this country, about an event in a war zone almost ten years ago, rather than from his NHS patients who are the people who have suffered from Doctor Keilloh’s erasure; further that the petitioners believe that in this case written statements from witnesses for the prosecution, presented by Phil Shiner, the lawyer acting on their behalf, were accepted by the MPTS panel without opportunity for cross examination; further that the Al-Sweady inquiry collapsed due to a lack of convincing evidence some of which was presented by Phil Shiner; further that the petitioners understand that Phil Shiner has been under investigation for professional misconduct by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and is now to face a tribunal; and further that an online petition on a similar matter has been signed by 3,496 individuals.

The petitioners therefore request the House of Commons to take note of the damage done to Doctor Keilloh’s life and career by what the petitioners believe to have been a flawed disciplinary process; and call on the House to urge the Government to re-examine the statutory basis for the jurisdiction of the MPTS with a view to remedying this and potential future injustices; and to urge the Government to open an investigation into the written statements from the Iraqi witnesses as presented by Public Interest Lawyers, and the evidence they gave under cross examination in the Al-Sweady inquiry, the original British army court-martial in the Baha Mousa case, the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry and Dr Keilloh’s Fitness to Practice hearing.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Rishi Sunak , Official Report, 12 July 2016; Vol. 613, c. 260 .]

[P001700]

Observations from The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr Philip Dunne):

The General Medical Council (GMC) is the independent regulator for doctors in the UK and takes action when a doctor fails to meet the standards needed, either through imposing sanctions on the doctor’s registration, or by removing their right to practise.

At the time of Dr Keilloh’s removal from the medical register in 2012 the due process was taken forward by a fitness-to-practise panel of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS). The panel heard evidence and decided whether Dr Keilloh’s fitness to practise was impaired.

The legislation that underpins the workings of the GMC and MPTS has been the subject of public consultation and has been properly scrutinised by Parliament.

As the GMC and MPTS are independent of Government it is not appropriate for the Government to comment on or become involved with individual fitness-to-practise cases.