HOUSE OF COMMONS
LONDON SW1A 0AA
Mr Denis Walker
Our ref: RSE8241
8th February 2010
Dear Mr Walker
Thank you for your letter about the Government’s new planning system for major infrastructure projects and Early Day Motion 545. Like you, I am concerned that the Government’s current scrutiny process for National Policy Statements does not go far enough. In my opinion, it is essential that Parliament and accountable Ministers have a direct role to play in matters of national significance. My Party has made it clear that a future Conservative Government will keep National Policy Statements, but require them to be ratified by both Houses of Parliament as secondary legislation. This explicit Parliamentary ratification will provide a much-needed democratic check and balance.
Conservative plans for Parliamentary-ratified National Policy Statements will speed up the planning system, whilst reducing the scope for legal challenges. If subjected to this level of scrutiny, the National Policy Statements would avoid planning inquiries getting bogged down on issues of policy.
Despite this, I recently took the decision that I will no longer be signing Early Day Motions as I feel that they are an easy way for Members to show support for an issue without taking any real action. You may be interested to know that over 2,800 EDMs are tabled each Parliamentary session and the vast majority of these do not even reach the floor of the house for debate. I therefore feel that they are a waste of public money, costing around £260 each to print and publish (around £750,000 per year) and never really achieve anything.
In addition to this while the Early Day Motion highlights well the problems affecting the current system for major infrastructural projects, Conservative policies would go much further than the text of EDM 545. As such, I will not be signing this Early Day Motion.
Rest assured that I will continue to press for National Policy Statements to be subject to full and proper parliamentary scrutiny.
James Duddridge MP