Gipsy Sites

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:14 pm on 10th July 1990.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Dr John Blackburn Dr John Blackburn , Dudley West 8:14 pm, 10th July 1990

I wish to pay a warm and generous tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, West (Mr. Jones) for the way in which he introduced the Select Committee report.

One could not but be moved by the dramatic content of the speech, which was well received, of my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Sir H. Rossi). His remarks will be long remembered in the House.

My contribution is on behalf of the west midlands. The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) correctly said that this is not a Bradford but a national matter, as has been reflected in the debate. We are discussing a national problem and we are looking forward, with differing degrees of confidence, to the Minister's response.

I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest (Mr. Coombs) is here because I know that he shares my view that this social problem—this plague, as it has been called—is as relevant in the west midlands as it is anywhere else. I should be the first to support the concept of special officers able to deal with the problems of the itinerants in that, in the long term, they may come into society, particularly from the point of view of helping the children.

Having said that, I must add that in the Himley and Kingswinford areas of my constituency I am continually, along with local councillors, involved in the problem of itinerants. Although the local authority, at considerable expense, often takes action, I have known of many cases where itinerants have been moved and then, tragedy of tragedies, have gone on to private land. Some small farmers in the area have been confronted with the problem. It is an expensive exercise to arrange through the private sector to have itinerants removed from private property.

Against that background, I hope that something positive and constructive can come out of this debate for the people involved. The Minister has a solemn responsibility. I urge him to review the situation, particularly in relation to the growing problem in the west midlands of itinerants going on to private land and the local authorities, understandably, being reluctant to become involved in evictions.

I support designated sites. They are dotted around the west midlands, particularly in the Wolverhampton and Dudley areas.

I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to listen to the voice of the entire House of Commons speaking in unison on this important problem, which is a social problem now but which could easily become more devastating.