HS2 Petitioning Advice

Antony Chapman  |  Published: Apr 29th 2014

Presentation of Petitions 

The period during which we can deliver our Petitions is from Wednesday 30th April to Friday 23rd May.   However, for businesses it ends a week earlier on Friday 16th May.   The following information, and that on the £20 fee, is adapted from that on the Parliamentary website.

Petitions will need to be presented in person, by the Petitioner or a Roll B agent, on the parliamentary estate in Westminster at Portcullis House, the entrance to which is on the Embankment round the corner from Westminster tube station.  

 Your MP can also deliver your Petition for you.   David Lidington has said that he will be putting on his website next week the arrangements by which he will do this.  

The first Petitions will be accepted on 30 April – not on 29 April, as the House will not consider the petitioning motion setting the petitioning dates until the afternoon of 29 April.

Opening hours will be 10am–5pm each working day (including 16 May) until 23 May when the closing time will be 2pm. No future petitioners will be admitted to the building after this time so please arrive in good time on 23 May. On Thursday 15 and Thursday 22 May we will remain open until 7pm.   Here is a summary of the opening times:

30 April – 2 May:    10am–5pm                                  16 May:                 10am–5pm
6-9 May                    10am- 5pm                                 19 May- 21 May:  10am–5pm
12-14 May                10am–5pm                                 22 May:                 10am–7pm
15 May                     10am-7pm                                  23 May:                 10am–2pm

Please only come if you are a petitioner or agent – we are expecting many petitioners and there will not be room to accommodate supporters as well. Please do not bring bulky or sharp items as a security screen will operate on entrance. Further guidance is here: http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/access/security/

At busy periods there may be an outside queue, so it would be advisable to dress suitably for outdoors. If you require any special assistance please speak to the Visitor Assistant when you arrive.

The fee of £20 is partly a token of good faith and partly to help defray the administrative costs of running the select committee. It has remained at its current level since 1988. Payment will be accepted by cash, cheque, or regular credit and debit cards (not American Express). Payment must accompany your petition. Cheques should be made payable to ‘GBS: re HoC: Administration’ and marked ‘HS2’ on the back.  You and other petitioners affected in the same way can submit a single petition for a single £20 fee.

Copies   You must provide four stapled copies of your Petition, (ie the original signed one plus three copies) and of your front and back covers. 

The House of Commons has a helpful document  “How to petition against a Hybrid Bill  in the House of Commons”.   To look at it online:         

1. Click on www.parliament.uk 

2.Click on Parliamentary Business

3.Click on Bills & Legislation

4.Top Right Search box, type in Hybrid Bills

5.The first box that comes up should be = Hybrid Bills, current & previous sessions.   Click on it.

6.Then look to the Right, Further Information

7.Click on the last entry, Petitioning Toolkit/petitioning forms  

8.This comes up as a separate downloadable document

It includes standard forms and an example of a petition against the Crossrail Hybrid Bill. 

Bucks CC has also produced a Guide to Hybrid Bill Petitioning    It can be seen on the 51m website. Go to www.51m.co.uk  click on Petitioning,  BCC Petitioning Guide – FAQ 31 Jan.  

 

The Petition itself

We have a template on our website www.wendoverhs2.wordpress.com   The latest draft is headed Draft 6.   The front and back covers are also on our website. 

A number of the paragraphs in the template may not apply to you, and there may be others which do apply but are not in the template.  Some may have numbers such as distances or heights which you may wish to alter.   Group Petitions of, for example, neighbours must be identical.  

The first four and the last paragraphs are fixed; the ones in the middle are the meat of the Petition.   It might be only 2 or 3 pages long, but it could be much longer.   Remember, you must be “directly and specially affected” so some of these subjects may not be relevant for you.

Our solicitor has emphasised the need to be very positive in your Petition about your reasons for objecting to the Bill.   The reasons in the Petition must be worded strongly.   The reasons need to be personal to the Petitioner.   As an example, if you are a walker and use footpaths which will be unusable due to construction works, you should specify those actual footpaths.

You can petition on the grounds of construction problems alone, though of course it would be better if you could add problems caused by the line itself and the operation of the trains.  

Please make the two following changes to the Petition on our website.

1.    At the top of the Petition the Session should read 2013-14.

2    In the very last paragraph starting “YOUR PETITIONER therefore prays......”   I suggest you add the words “in the premises” after “your Petitioner” in the last full line.   While I do not think it essential, it is in the example given by the Private Bills Office.   I therefore recommend it.  

Locus Standi – the Right to Petition   There may be claims by the DfT that some Petitioners did not have a locus standi. ie the Right to Petition.   While there were no such claims on the Crossrail Bill, there were a few on the HS1 Bill, which is more comparable.  

The procedure is that the DfT makes any locus claims all together at the beginning of the Select Committee proceedings, before the content of any Petitions are considered by the SC.  The SC decides whether or not to accept the DfT’s claims.  If you have received mailshots from HS2 Ltd you should mention this as evidence that HS2 Ltd considers you are someone likely to be affected by the Bill.  

The fact that you live too far from the line would be a possible ground for such a claim, but you should try to counter this in your Petition.  If your property is not shown on some of the HS2 Ltd maps you can nevertheless say that it is in the ZTV, the Zone of Theoretical Visibility, which covers a much larger area, and is the area in which you can in theory see the line.   The ZTV maps are now in Wendover Library.  

Neil Caulfield at the Private Bills Office in the House of Commons is willing to cast an eye over Petitions to confirm that they follow the rules.   You can email him at prbohoc@parliament.uk  

 

General points 

1.    Neighbouring properties.   In principle the more petitions the better.   However, neighbours may eventually feel that if one of their number is likely to be an impressive witness they could get him/her to represent them.   Two or more neighbours can be on the same petition. 

2.    Husband and wife can make separate petitions, but if they are nearly identical the Select Committee may decide to hear only one of them.  

3.    Children may petition, but if they do, they may need an adult representative.  

4.    Does the SC have to see every petitioner or can it lump identical or similar ones together?   The SC when formed will decide on what to do.

5.    What if Parliament is overwhelmed by the number of petitions?   It may attempt to trim them down, and limit the amount of time allocated to each petition.

6.    You cannot attach an appendix or schedule to your petition.   You can however present supporting material up to 24 hours, or perhaps longer,  before being heard.   This emphasises the need for petitions to contain enough detail, but not too much, so that a more detailed report can be presented later.  

7.    The back page must be on a separate sheet.  

8.    The petition does not have to be typed, but might well be rejected if part is in the slightest illegible.   It must be single-sided. 

9.   Electronic submission of petitions are not permitted.

10.  Can you Petition more than once?   No, but....    I think the implication was that if you Petitioned for different reasons and with different objectives you might get away with it.   In my view not worth considering.

11. Can you Petition for compensation?   Yes.    You should say that the arrangements in the Bill for compensation are inadequate.

12. There can be a number of Petitioners on one Petition, eg neighbours or family.   All must agree the wording.   They can be represented in front of the Select Committee by one or more of their number, or a Roll B agent.   If the former, all must sign the Petition.   If the latter, all must sign a letter of authority appointing the Roll B agent, but not the Petition. 

13. If another Petitioner asks for something you don’t like you can Petition against it right up to your appearance in front of the SC.  

14.  It is accepted that the language required is archaic, but just use it and don’t complain.

 

Roll B agents   If you require a Roll B agent to deliver your Petition and represent you in front of the Select Committee we have a list from which you can choose.   You can only name one Roll B agent in your Petition, though a replacement can be appointed in case of illness, holidays, etc.   The list is:

Marion Clayton.   Ron Petersen.   Roger Waller.   Jenny Waller.   Alan Andrews.  

Emma Davies.   Antony Chapman.

Obviously you will need their consent before putting their name on your Petition.  

Anyone who fills in a Roll B application form and obtains a certificate of respectability, and presents them with a Petition, can become a Roll B agent.  There may be people other than on the above list willing to perform this role.   

You can’t apply to be a Roll B agent before submitting a Petition.   Once you have been accepted as a Roll B agent, that applies to all other petitions on which you are named as one.   If a Roll B agent is rejected, what happens to that Petition and others on which that agent is named?  Our solicitor didn’t know.   So far as he is aware it has never happened.    If your Petition doesn’t appoint a Roll B agent, you can appoint one later. 

 

Finally and with regret, a legal point.   Wendover HS2 and its committee members will not be liable for any loss suffered due to incorrect information they may have given you.   If you have a problem with this, please take your own legal advice.  

 

www.wendoverhs2.wordpress.com                 wendoverhs2@btinternet.com                      07922 532598

 

chap@halevalley.wanadoo.co.uk                    01296 623730  

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