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Friday, June 27, 2008

English Planning Laws Changed With Scots Votes

Campaign For An English Parliament Press Release

On Wednesday June 25th harsh restrictions on democracy in the treatment of planning applications in England, personally endorsed and promoted by Gordon Brown UK Prime Minister, were carried with the help of votes of Scotland 50 MPs of which he is one. Mr Brown is MP for Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath in Fifeshire. His government’s new proposals, which he calls ‘a reform of the planning laws’ were carried by a majority of only 43 votes.They were opposed not just by rebel Labour English MPs, the Conservative Party and the Lib-Dem Party but also such organisations as the Friends of the Earth (FoE) and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

‘This vote is yet another searing example of the way the 1998 devolution legislation devised and spearheaded by Gordon Brown treats England with flagrant injustice,’ stated Michael Knowles National Council member and Head of the CEP Media Unit in a message circulated to all CEP members in England. ‘That legislation provided a parliament for Mr Brown’s own country and an assembly for Wales but nothing at all for England. That legislation enables Scotland’s MPs to vote on every single measure which affects England while it denies to England’s MPs any say at all in the legislation that the Scottish Parliament passes for Scotland. Scotland by virtue of the 1998 devolution measures is now 75% independent of the rest of the UK. England’s MP’s have no say at all in Scotland’s planning matters. Yet Scotland’s MPs were able yesterday to help vote through the most restrictive and anti-democratic planning legislation affecting England only in the whole of the post-war period.’

The CEP endorses the opposition to the new proposals made by the FoE and the CPRE. ‘This planning bill is undemocratic, marginalises community voices and does nothing to tackle climate change,’ has stated Hugh Ellis FoE planning campaigner. ‘The new system removes the public’s right and safeguards” Mr Ellis stated. ‘Instead unaccountable commissioners will decide whether anyone can cross-examine, which witnesses are heard and whether there will be a public hearing for each planning decision.’

‘Unlike Scotland with its own parliament and Wales with its assembly,’ Michael Knowles wrote to the CEP membership, ‘England has no voice of its own to defend its environment. For this government, and Mr Brown in particular, England is just a market place, a building site, an employment park, a trading estate, a huge shopping mall, a monumental car park. Nothing else. By means of the 1998 devolution which he drove through the UK parliament he got for his own Scotland a parliament which can fully protect its great and glorious enviironment about which all Scots can be justly proud and enjoy to the full, himself included. He does not treat his country as a mere trading estate like he treats England. The time has definitely come for England to have the same means of protection, its own parliament.’

Go to the Campaign For An English Parliament site here.

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