Debates in Westminster Hall are by no means universally popular. In 1999 MPs began sitting there, in what is a parallel chamber to the main one in the Commons. The building itself is steeped in history, however.
Yesterday Anne Milton, MP for Guildford and part of the Conservatives’ Health Team, spoke in Westminster Hall about the South-east Plan. Tomorrow the consultation period for the Government’s proposed amendments comes to an end. She highlighted the fact that:
"The publication of the plan was shrouded in secrecy. It was impossible to get an answer from the Minister about when it would be published even 12 hours beforehand. It was not widely available and is not accessible to people without the internet. If it had not been for the co-operation of my local newspaper, the Surrey Advertiser, and local radio station, 96.4 Eagle, I doubt whether anybody in Guildford without the support of the residents association would be aware of the plan’s existence, let alone its importance. Yet it will have a significant and irreversible impact not only on Guildford, but across the south-east.
I will mention the gross figures. The original plan proposed building 578,000 new homes. Despite the serious challenges of achieving that, the Government have returned with an increase of some 85,000, making the total 662,500 new homes. As the regional assembly has already made clear—and I am no fan of regional assemblies—Government proposals threaten to destroy an already delicate balance between housing growth on the one hand and providing decent infrastructure and protecting the environment on the other."
Several good points, and well-made. Does it matter that they weren’t made in the main chamber?