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Volume 622: debated on Monday 6 March 2017


Monday 6 March 2017

Presented Petition

Petition presented to the House but not read on the Floor


The petition of Rebecca Gaffney,

Declares that the petitioner is the mother of a four year old girl who has been placed for non-consensual adoption by Essex Children’s Services. The arguments used to justify this by the Local Authority have varied over time, including relying on hearsay. Further, although she passed all drugs tests from her General Practitioner, a court-appointed expert made findings against her. She was given permission to appeal, and the court-appointed expert accepted he was wrong. However, her child was not returned to her care as she was considered to be settled with adopters.

The petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons Education and Justice Committees investigate the use of adoption targets by Local Authorities and whether they impact on the independence of evidence provided to the courts; further requests that cases like hers, where children are adopted even though the case against the parent is disproven, are considered when reviewing how procedures operate in care proceedings, and how experts are not prosecuted for giving false information, and how people in her position might obtain a re-hearing of the case.

And the petitioner remains, etc.—[Presented by Sir Eric Pickles.]



Communities and Local Government

The Royal Sutton Coldfield Green Belt

The Humble Petition of citizens of the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield,


That the proposal to build 6000 homes on the Green Belt that surrounds the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield should not proceed while accepting that significant new housing should be built in more appropriate places.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House considers this proposal and lays it aside.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mr Andrew Mitchell, Official Report, 12 September 2016; Vol. 614, c. 735.]


Observations from the Minister for Housing and Planning (Gavin Barwell): Green Belts are created by local authorities, who are expected to protect them in line with policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Framework states that a Green Belt boundary can be altered only in exceptional circumstances, In the Housing White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to Green Belt protections.

Local authorities, working with their communities, are responsible for determining the best location for the new homes needed in the area. The Framework recognises that, in exceptional circumstances, a local authority may find it necessary to review the extent of its Green Belt using the Local Plan process of public consultation followed by examination in public of the draft Plan, as happened in the preparation of the Birmingham Development Plan.

All Local Plans are submitted to the Secretary of State for examination. Examinations are carried out on the Secretary of State’s behalf by an independent inspector who tests whether a plan is sound, which includes testing whether it is consistent with national policy.

Following local requests for intervention by the Secretary of State in Birmingham’s Plan process, the Secretary of State issued a holding direction preventing Birmingham Council from adopting its Plan.

After careful consideration, the Secretary of State found no grounds for intervening in the Birmingham Development Plan, noting that Birmingham Council had taken appropriate steps to maximise densities and use of brownfield land, and that the scale of housing need means that not all Birmingham's housing need could be met within the city. Accordingly, the holding direction was lifted and the Planning Inspector’s report was upheld. It can be viewed at:

This means that, after some years of discussion and revision of the draft Plan, including the statutory consultation with local people, the local authority is now able to proceed to adopt its Plan.

As and when planning applications are made for the land in question, the Petitioners will have further opportunities to comment to the local authority.