§ 7 pm
§ Mr. Robert Jackson (Wantage)
I rise to present two petitions on the same subject. My position is a delicate one because one of them calls on the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to call in plans for the proposed expansion of Didcot in my constituency, while the other asks him not to do so. It is my role, as the Member of Parliament representing these petitioners, to represent all of them—whatever their views—without fear or favour, which is why I find myself in an interesting position this evening.
For the record, I shall describe the two petitions. One of them—it is wrapped in elegant green ribbons—comes from the campaign for a sustainable Didcot. It carries some 3,000 signatures. It prays that the Secretary of State shoulda) direct Oxfordshire County Council to pay due regard in its deliberations to all relevant planning guidances and to follow the clear preference expressed by the Panel of the Examination in Public for the north east option; andb) to use his powers to call in the structure plan for determination should the county council in his view fail to pay such regard.
The other petition, which is bound in an equally elegant green ring-binder, comes from the group of 13 parishes and carries 2,607 signatures. It prays forthe Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to resist demands for the decision to be called in which, if acceded to, would only undermine the local democratic process in our County"—that is Oxfordshire—and add unnecessarily to the already considerable costs to public funds.
May I put it on record that the painful dilemma that is reflected in these contradictory petitions arises from the Government's requirement that Oxfordshire must accommodate another 40,000 houses by the year 2006, with the prospect of yet more thereafter?
§ Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Sylvia Heal)
Order. The hon. Gentleman must confine his remarks to the petitions. He must not make a speech.