Neil Parish MP speaking in the Christmas adjournment debate raised the case of a constituent who was sexually abused on an Army base in Cyprus during the 1980s. Neil Parish also raised his constituent’s concerns in Feniton regarding flooding and over-development and pressed the government to start improvements to the A303 road as soon as possible:
Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): It is good to follow the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell). He made a powerful case about ensuring proper consultation on HS2 and the new runways at Heathrow, and I understand his concerns. Perhaps the issue does not cause me quite so much concern when representing Tiverton and Honiton down in Devon, but I can see his concern and that of his constituents.
I want to raise a particularly difficult case that concerns the struggle of one of my constituents to obtain compensation for serious trauma caused to him back in the ‘80s. I will give a brief background to the case. My constituent was living on an Army base in Cyprus in the late ‘80s with his father, a GCHQ employee. My constituent experienced serious sexual abuse at the base from the age of 12 to 17 from a paedophile gang of military personnel from both the UK and the United Nations.
My constituent is seeking compensation for the serious damage caused to him while living on that Army camp in Cyprus, but I understand that he is not eligible for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation (Overseas) Scheme because his father was not military personnel, even though he was attached to the Cyprus base. There is a UK national Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, but my constituent is excluded from that because the offences took place outside the United Kingdom. There is also a Europe-wide scheme, but again my constituent is excluded by reason of the offences taking place prior to the implementation of that scheme. My constituent is excluded from other possible avenues for compensation. He is at present without a remedy for the grievous harm he has suffered. I understand that GCHQ comes under the jurisdiction of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, so it might be thought reasonable for it to implement a matching scheme to provide compensation for those in my constituent’s position, or, alternatively, to offer a one-off compensation award under the same principles as the overseas scheme.
I have met Ministers and military police. I think and hope that in 2013 his case has been dealt with much more sympathetically and in a much better manner. The military police dealt with my constituent’s case in a very high-handed and ineffective way, and I want very much for him to have closure in this matter. We need to find some form of compensation, whatever it is, just to say that somebody has owned up to the fact that it was not dealt with properly, and that the abuse he sustained all those years ago still affects him now. I have met him several times. I do not know whether the Deputy Leader of the House can help in any way, but I seek help from him because this is a very serious matter.
Moving on to other constituency matters, I would like to talk about the A30/A303. I hear in this House huge problems for the Government in trying to get HS2 going and the trouble with Heathrow airport. I assure the Government that they would have much less trouble dualling the A30/A303.
John McDonnell: I don’t suppose the hon. Gentleman would like a runway, would he?
Neil Parish: I thank the hon. Gentleman for the idea that we could have a runway for Heathrow, but I think we are about 180 miles away. That is a long way away, but I understand his sentiments.
Returning to the A30/A303, from Exeter to Honiton the A30 is all dualled. It then goes from Honiton to the Somerset border, where it is not dualled. As it gets towards the Somerset border it splits off, with one part going on to Yeovil and the A30 carries on and goes into the A303. I want to see this part dualled in particular, and not just because it is in my constituency. Believe it or not, I am not just making a plea for my constituency, because it then travels up through Somerset and into Wiltshire. Of course, it passes by some rather interesting stones—I think they are called Stonehenge. How to pass them—whether we should build a tunnel and so on—has always been a thorny problem.
I think that, in all, nine sections of the A30/A303 need to be dualled. As a Government, we need to start picking up and running with these individual schemes. The greater the amount of dual carriageway on the road, the more we will have a second arterial route into the west country. Devon and Cornwall in particular, and Somerset too, rely a lot on tourism. Our businesses are hugely affected by the speed of travel. If the M5 is blocked, there is just carnage because traffic cannot get through.
Mr Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): I was not expecting to intervene, but as my mother-in-law lives along the A303—not that I necessarily want to rush to get to my mother-in-law’s—I know the road has congestion points that create huge tailbacks, particularly leading back from Stonehenge towards London. I sympathise with my hon. Friend, and I am, of course, very much looking forward to seeing my mother-in-law on Boxing day.
Neil Parish: I thank my hon. Friend for his comment. On this occasion, it being Christmas, I am sure he will be delighted to see his mother-in-law. To be serious, he is absolutely right. Travelling the A30 down into Cornwall, one finds large tailbacks on every long stretch of non-dualled road, but on short non-dualled roads, there is always much less of a tailback. I hope we will get a dual carriageway, tunnel or something past Stonehenge, but if not, at least a lot more dualling on the road would speed up the process. The other day, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced a pipeline of funding, so I asked him to turn on the tap. I am looking forward to the tap being turned on and that road being built.
On a third constituency matter, Feniton is a village on the outskirts of Honiton that was flooded many times last year and which has been under threat this year, yet several planning applications have been made for 200 homes in the village. These proposed homes have been refused by the district and parish councils, and the local population oppose them hugely because the infrastructure is not there. These homes will create more surface run-off and cause more flooding. I want the Planning Inspectorate to consider that point. I understand that the planning Minister is issuing guidance to planning inspectors to ensure that the infrastructure of a village or town is taken into consideration when appeal decisions are being looked at. It is imperative that this matter be treated in that way, because Feniton could be swamped by these homes and the infrastructure—the roads, the sewerage system and the schools—would be overloaded.
On a general point about flooding throughout my constituency, we are on an alert even as we speak. We must learn the lessons of flooding. No, we cannot stop it raining, and no we cannot stop flooding, but we can ensure that our rivers and tributaries are dredged and enable more local management of waterways so that the people who know exactly when the rivers are too high, when sluices need to be opened and when drainage points are blocked can do that work. The result would be a lot less flooding. It is good that the Government are negotiating Flood Re with the insurance companies. That means that my constituents should be able to get insurance at a reasonable cost. I also want to emphasise the fact that sometimes the Environment Agency’s flood-prevention schemes can be very expensive, but local people could help bring that about and do a lot of self-help.
On a final issue, we are about to agree yet another reform of the common agricultural policy. Under the new settlement, money will be taken for so-called capping or modulation, although we do not know whether it will be 9%, 12% or 15%; we are waiting for the Government to say exactly how much. I make this plea: we must make good use of the money we take from farmers and put in place good environmental schemes that will help not only agriculture, but the environment, grasslands and hills, such as those in Devon.
Mr Newmark: I thank my hon. Friend for allowing me another bite at the cherry.
Last Friday, I met my local farmers, and they raised with me a good question about the modulation that my hon. Friend could put to the Secretary of State or Ministers. According to many farmers, 15% is an extraordinarily high figure, and some justification for why it is not 9% or 9.5%, as in other EU countries, would be useful.
Neil Parish: I had better be quick because, Madam Deputy Speaker, you are looking me very sternly.
Yes, 15% is very high. We must use this modulated money to put in place environmental schemes that are necessary. We must not take money from farmers unless we know exactly what we are going to do with it. In the end, the family farms in Devon and across the country are important, not only to farming, but to the countryside itself.
I wish you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and Mr Deputy Speaker a happy Christmas. I also thank all the staff throughout this building for their good work this year and wish them a happy Christmas.
Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 19 December 2013, c972)