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Virender Sharma - UK Member of Parliament (MP)


NRI MP, Sharma quits against Heathrow 3-runway expansion vote
UK Conservatives rejecting the nine-billion-pound expansion plan was defeated by 297 votes to 278.


London, Jan 29, 2009
Surinder Mehta

UK NRI, Mr Virendra Sharma Labour MP, quits as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Immigration Minister Phil Woolas in protest to the construction of the 3-runway at Heathrow Airport. Mr Sharma said:

  • A third runway would mean "all-day noise and pollution" for many constituents, including schoolchildren.
  • Some would suffer these problems for the first time because of a new flight path.
  • This expansion will increase carbon emissions from Heathrow exacerbating global warming
  • I will continue to do all I can to oppose it as a backbench MP
  • The government's decision to expand Heathrow will seriously affect many of my constituents and my first priority is to represent them.

Another Labour MP from west London, Andrew Slaughter, resigned as a PPS in the Foreign Office to fight the runway plans. In a letter to his constituents, Mr Slaughter said, "Heathrow's owners promised there would be no expansion after Terminal 5. Now they want a third runway and sixth terminal. Like many local people, I say enough is enough."

Theresa Villiers, Transport Secretary said:

  • Only a Conservative Government could now stop the plan.
  • While it is disappointing for opponents of Heathrow expansion that our motion was not carried tonight our commitment to stopping a third runway remains absolute.
  • Today the Government was forced to allow MPs a vote

Some 28 Labour MPs rebelled to back a joint Conservative/Liberal Democrat motion against the third runway in the first Commons vote.

At the end of the debate in the House of Commons yesterday on Heathrow expansion the Government’s majority was defeated by 297 votes to 278.

It scraped home by a mere 19 votes. If 8 Democratic Unionists had voted with the opposition parties instead of the Government, Labour’s majority would have been down to one. As it was, this was the biggest rebellion on an opposition motion since Labour came to power in 1997.

John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN, said, “This vote is another nail in the coffin for the Government’s plans to build a 3rd runway. It becomes less likely by the day that the runway will ever be built.”

Supporters of this project said that it is necessary to help Britain retain its position as a global business centre. The tourism minister says that the downturn in tourism was responsible for half the shrinkage in the UK economy in the three months to September. The industry is worth some £114 billion each year

Heathrow operates at 99%t capacity and accommodates more flights on just two runways than any other airport in the world.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport boasts five runways, Paris’ Charles de Gaulle has four.

In 2007, media reported that Heathrow was the least punctual of all Europe’s major airports. There are outbound leisure travelers about 69 million people and international visitors stand at a record 33 million last year



Virendra Kumar Sharma