Summer Adjournment Debate

Neil Parish raises a wide variety of local issues in the Adjournment debate, including water charges, Tiverton high school, the A303 around Honiton, maternity services, rural broadband, bovine TB and, additionally, farming in Zimbabwe.Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): It is a great honour to make a few points in the summer Adjournment debate. I begin by suggesting to the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) that perhaps there should be a small redistribution of wealth from the BBC to ITV. We should remember that it also does a good job.Let me move quickly on to the subject of South West Water charges. In my constituency-in my view, it is as beautiful as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston)-the charges are significantly higher, because we have 30% of the beaches and only 3% of the population to pay the extra charges. I should like the Government to consider some form of national levy requiring people from all over the country to pay for the beaches that they come to enjoy. We welcome them when they come to enjoy those beaches, but we do not think that the retired people of the South West Water area should pay the extra charges. It would mean bills in the South West Water area falling by about £65 to £75, yet the national levy would be in the region of £1.50. I ask the Government to look at this sympathetically.On Tiverton high school, let me first say that I understand that the coalition Government have of course had to cut back on the Building Schools for the Future programme because there was no money left. We know that that is the case, and I shall not repeat it too often. We need to be sure that we can build schools in the future, and that the money we put into capital spending actually goes into building schools and not on administration, as 20% to 30% did under BSF. I ask Ministers that when money becomes available, Tiverton high school is not forgotten, because that would be good not only for the high school, but for a part of Tiverton that needs regeneration.I want now to talk about the A303/A30.The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of the Leader of the House of Commons (Mr David Heath): Hear, hear.Neil Parish: I thought the Deputy Leader of the House might say that as the A303 also runs through his constituency. In Cornwall, we have trunked the whole A303-or A30 as it is down there. That is excellent of course, but by the time many people get to Cornwall they will have passed through Wiltshire, Somerset and Devon. We have to make sure that we trunk the road through Somerset into Devon, and around Honiton in particular, where there is a bad bottleneck. When people get to Honiton, they can link into the dual carriageway that takes them on to Exeter and beyond. It would be great if we could get this done. In 1997, the road was all ready to be built, but then-lo and behold-we got a Labour Government who immediately stopped it. As the plans are all ready, we could go ahead and build this straight away if we had the money.My constituency has the two hospitals of Tiverton and Honiton, and we have maternity units in both of them. Prior to the election, services were cut in Honiton and they have been stopped in Tiverton. I want to ensure that those maternity services are reintroduced, because it is absolutely right that we not only have midwives to help with home births, but that mothers can choose to give birth in hospital as well. I therefore make that great plea.I want there to be more competition with BT in the rolling out of broadband into rural areas. At present BT is dictating the speed at which it is being rolled out, and it is currently not being rolled out at all across many rural areas. I welcome the coalition Government's commitment to helping communities roll out broadband.The need to take decisive action on tuberculosis in cattle is an issue dear to the hearts of many of us in rural areas. We spend more than £100 million a year on taking out diseased cattle, yet we are not tackling the disease in wildlife. I welcome the commitment of the Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure that we look at ways in which we can cull infected badgers so that cattle are not re-infected.My final point is about Zimbabwe, which is, I accept, a long way from my constituency, but many of my constituents come from that country and I was an election observer there in 2000. Zimbabwe is still staggering on, and I hope our coalition Government prove to be more effective than the current coalition Government in that country. I plead with the Government to look in future at helping Zimbabwe to have a proper audit of the farms and farmland there. Zimbabwe could feed both itself and quite a lot of Africa, but at present it cannot even feed itself because that land is not being farmed and not being looked after. The ownership of these farms is now often not for the sake of farming the land, but just for the sake of having property, and that should be investigated.| Hansard