Charles Walker: Mr Thomas, you will have two minutes once the Minister sits down.
Charles Walker: Today I will desist from eviscerating Veolia, but I hope, electorate willing, to be returned on 8 June to pursue this appalling company on the Floor of the House. Shortly after that, Mr Speaker, I will ask you whether you have received the apology you requested from the company a few weeks ago for misleading me, as the hon. Member for Broxbourne. Does the Leader of the House agree that,...
Charles Walker: I call the Minister. Minister, would you allow the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith) two minutes at the end to wind up?
Charles Walker: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I apologise to you and the House for inadvertently misleading it during my Adjournment debate last Thursday on the Ratty’s Lane incinerator? I said that in 2012 Hertfordshire County Council objected to 46 of Veolia’s HGV movements a day, and that the company was now proposing 212 HGV movements a day. That figure was provided to me by Veolia on...
Charles Walker: The capacity would be 350,000 tonnes. That figure is taken from Veolia’s own press release.
Charles Walker: May I associate myself with the Prime Minister’s statement this morning on yesterday’s distressing events? She spoke for the nation and for my constituents. May I say how disappointed I am to have to bring this matter to the attention of the House and the Minister this afternoon? In the main, Members of Parliament should keep out of the way of planning applications. However, the...
Charles Walker: Thank you, colleagues. I hope you all have a productive Friday and weekend. Question put and agreed to. Resolved, That this House has considered Jobcentre Plus office closures. Sitting adjourned.
Charles Walker: Before I call the Minister, I remind him that we would like Mr Stephens to have two minutes at the end. Would the Minister mind sitting down by 4.28 pm?
Charles Walker: I am going to call the Minister no later than 4.18 pm. If the Opposition Front Benchers want me to call him earlier than that—he has got lots of notes—that is entirely up to them.
Charles Walker: The three Front-Bench speakers need about eight minutes each, and I want to leave two minutes for the mover of the motion to wind up.
Charles Walker: I made this same point to my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose): the big six and Veolia behave in this way because there is a culture of arrogance and entitlement. That is the problem, and we—or, more to the point, the companies—need to address that culture.
Charles Walker: The problem is not just the way that organisations such as Veolia and the big six treat their customers; it is the way that they treat their regulators and this place—elected representatives.
Charles Walker: Does my hon. Friend agree that part of the problem with the big six and other generators, such as Veolia, is that they are not straightforward and honest with their customers and stakeholders? Until they are straightforward and honest, there will be disquiet about their conduct.
Charles Walker: Oh sorry, Mr Speaker, you took me by surprise!
Charles Walker: And as I am only the Chair of the Procedure Committee, these things are lost on me! May we have an urgent debate on the conduct of the Hertfordshire local enterprise partnership in relation to its possible misuse of £6.5 million of public money to promote and ease a planning application on behalf of Veolia? The relationship between Veolia, the LEP, Hertfordshire County Council, the...
Charles Walker: Will my right hon. Friend give way?
Charles Walker: I thank my right hon. Friend for visiting my constituency—[Interruption.]
Charles Walker: Thank you very much for that protection, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is much appreciated. I thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for visiting Broxbourne last week. May I divert him from Surrey to Hertfordshire, where a much bigger problem relates to an incinerator application? The awarding local authority, Hertfordshire, is also the planning authority in this instance, which strikes...
Charles Walker: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. How best can I advise colleagues to sup with a long spoon when dealing with a company called Veolia? Perhaps I could write to all colleagues setting out Veolia’s modus operandi, or do you have an even better suggestion?
Charles Walker: May we have an urgent debate on the conduct of Veolia, an organisation full of sharp suits and sharp practices? This company is promoting an incinerator in my constituency on a floodplain that just 18 months ago it was arguing before the planning inspector was unsuitable for such a site. This is disgraceful and, dare I say, dishonest behaviour on the part of this company.