Private Members Bill talked out by government minister
[Fri 3rd March 2006]
The long-awaited second reading of the 'Telecommunications Masts Planning Control Bill' was talked out of the house of commons on 3rd March by a Labour government minister.
Government claim "no such risk"
In January 2005 the radiological protection board (NRPB) presented to government a report on mobile phones and health. In the NRPB report the governments health advisors on radiation protection provided evidence that there was a risk associated with the technology by stating...
"There is now scientific evidence however that suggests that there may be biological effects occurring at exposures below these [radiation emission] guidelines".
Yet on the 3rd of March 2006 in the house of commons, in his opening speech, the government's Under-secretary of state Jim Fitzpatrick stated..
"..there is concern and fear because of a perceived health risk, although all the evidence shows that there is no such risk."
Ironically, only five minutes into his speech the under-secretary of state quoted the actual paragraph from the NRPB report as shown above.
- It makes one wonder which part of "evidence however that suggests" the minister doesn't understand?
Since risks were involved, the NRPB recommended government adopt a 'precautionary approach' to use of the technology. However, apart from saying emissions should meet international guidelines, the NRPB didn't expand on what constitutes a precautionary approach. One obvious factor omitted is the proximity to the source of radiation.
- Would you trust someone like the under-secretary of state to tell you what is and isn't safe?
Approximately 18 MP's attended the house to hear the bill. For the Bill to have been passed at this second reading meant that at least 40 MP's needed to be in the house to vote. For the bill to receive an immediate vote would have taken 100 MP's to be in the house.
The Bills provisions included more control for local planning authorities, the scrapping of permitted development rights, a requirement that a precautionary statement is supplied with all applications, the right of local planners to refuse permission on health grounds, better provision for those seeking compensation under the Electronic Communication Code and removal of compulsory purchase powers from telecom operators.
One of the first to speak in support of the Bill was Burnley MP 'Kitty Ussher' who mentioned she was here today on request of her constituents in Burnley. Ms Ussher mentioned she was fully aware of her constituents concerns after a meeting with local councillors and pressure group Together Against Masts in Burnley.
David Curry, the MP for Skipton & Ripon who presented the bill predicted previously that without the support of Ministers - which it does not have - the Bill will not get enough Parliamentary time to stand a chance of becoming law.
Mr Curry's prediction came true when the government minister, who has the final comment on the bill, spoke for over twenty three minutes thus talking the Bill off the floor and stopping it from going any further in the chain of procedures.
Campaigners fighting for the safe siting of telecom's masts should not be disheartened or lose confidence, since we have now shown that the issue is well and truly something that will not go away in time.
And as Chris Maile, the author of the original Bill stated "Change is coming, it is time that the Government stopped playing politics with peoples fears and concerns, but instead treated them fairly by giving them a real say in the issues that affect their quality of life".