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HANSARD
315                           Adjournment (Easier)                           3 APRIL 1996                         Adjournment (Easier)                             316



My second concerns Havering council. I have given notice to my hon. Friends the Members for Romford (Sir M. Neubert), for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire) and for Upminster (Sir N. Bonsor) about my intention to raise the issue. I am meddling, if you like, in Havering council matters because it wickedly interfered in the education of my children. I have five children, all of whom attend a state school in my constituency of Basildon. I never speak publicly about my religious views—that is a personal matter—but, privately, my wife and I, as Catholics, believe in single-sex education. There are no single-sex Catholic schools in my constituency, so we applied to send our son to the nearest single-sex school which is located in Havering. The wickedness that resulted from our application defies belief. However, the chickens have come home to roost for the Labour and Liberal councillors concerned.
I was in America on the evening that the school’s governing body met to discuss my son’s application. It decided to accept that application on the strength of our belief in the Catholic religion. The school is non-grant maintained and non-selective. My wife and I did not know that our son had been offered a place at the school until we read it in our local newspapers. A Labour councillor,. Miss or Mrs. Feeney—
Mr. Jacques Arnold: Ms.
Mr. Amess: That night, Ms Feeney went to the town hall to consult with a former Member of Parliament, Arthur Latham, and with the chief executive, who used to be the Labour leader of Basildon council. They decided to get to work on the issue. When I returned from America, I found my wife and children extremely upset As a result of those wicked actions, party invitations had been withdrawn from small children who did not understand the reason why. You can imagine. Madam Deputy Speaker, my disgust when I learnt what Labour Members have been up to. They say that what they do as individuals does not affect the party: that is a load of rubbish and their hypocrisy should be aired publicly.
Sir Michael Neubert (Romford): Was the Ms Feeney to whom my hon. Friend referred the same woman who came originally from Dagenham and somehow qualified for a council property in Havering, which she then bought? She was then elected to the council and became a close confidant and ally of Arthur “Lothario" Latham, and apparently she is now purchasing a house across the border in Essex. Should we not be told more of that intriguing story?
"Basildon schools not good enough for local Member of Parliament". My office was immediately inundated by telephone calls making allegations of the sort that my hon. Friend the Member for Romford has described to the House. I have never abused my parliamentary privilege and I kept to myself all of the accusations that were made to my office.
The Labour councillor in Basildon who has been instrumental in spreading the story is currently in prison awaiting trial for a serious crime. I understand that his partner, who was also a councillor far one year, disappeared suddenly. The councillor resigned from Basildon council last week, but I cannot say any more about the matter as the trial is pending. However, I can comment about Havering council.
If one were to read the weekend newspapers carefully, one would see the corruption within that council and the nonsense that has gone on. I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) is in his place. He is an old boy of Campion school, which I attended also. The leader of the Liberal group on the council accused the hon. Gentleman of interfering in the allocation of my son’s school place. We have now discovered that the relationship between the leaders of the Labour and the Liberal groups—who are power sharing— goes way beyond any original understanding. I have many letters about the matter which illustrate a catalogue of abuse. Labour councillors have rebelled. I have in my hand a letter signed by four Labour councillors which states:
“Dear Comrades, It is with deep regret that we have resigned from membership of the Labour group. In spite of the ‘anti socialist’ nonsense you may be hearing you should be in no doubt that we will continue to support the administration in the implementation of the 1994 Labour Party manifesto. The causes of our resignations are complex and cumulative."
If we go further into the reasons, they are appalling. The letter continues:
“A couple of weeks ago all members of the Council, Labour and Conservative alike, received a letter announcing Arthur's full return to health and his willingness to take on all of his enemies 'within and without'. We don't know if this has frightened the Tories but it frightens us."
His letter goes on and on.
I am delighted that the Lib-Lab power-sharing arrangement in Havering has collapsed. The chickens have well and truly come home to roost. I hope that the same happens to Essex county council.