Caravan Sites Act 1968

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24 March 1993.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South 12:00, 24 March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the Caravan Sites Act 1968.

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

We have received more than 900 responses to our consultation paper, "Reform of the Caravan Sites Act 1968". A list of the respondents is in the Library, and copies of the responses are in the Department's library. We are considering the responses carefully and will announce the way forward as soon as possible.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is unfortunate that many of those who use gipsy sites are not gipsies, but itinerants, didicoys and ne'er-do-wells who feel that they have no obligation to society? Can we have some assurance of early legislation to repeal the Act?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

I think that there is general agreement that the Caravan Sites Act needs reform. At present, it fails gipsies and local communities. We want to ensure that the gipsies can have proper provision for sites through the planning system and that local communities are freed of the problems of illegal camping whether by gipsies or by new age travellers.

Photo of Mr Peter Pike Mr Peter Pike , Burnley

Does the Minister accept that some of the proposals in the consultation document last August that official sites should be abolished and sold off in the way suggested by some hon. Members would create more problems than it would solve? Will he undertake to consider in a positive way whether one solution that would be more acceptable to local authorities and residents, while overcoming some of the problems caused by unofficial sites, would be to consider the provision of smaller sites rather than large official sites?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

With respect, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has fully read the consultation paper. We are keen to ensure that local authority sites are properly managed. Many local authorities are not managing their sites. If gipsies are allowed to make provision for their sites through the planning system, I have no doubt that the consequence will be smaller sites.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk

Is the Minister aware that his proposals have widespread support, especially those which aim to stamp out the plague of illegal occupation? Is he aware that my local borough council, King's Lynn and West Norfolk, is aware that the proposals might lead to the withdrawal of 100 per cent. funding of local authority sites? Will he look again at the proposals and seek a compromise whereby there is still some Department of the Environment funding for those sites?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment)

There is no other parallel anywhere in the machinery of government for 100 per cent. direct grant as there is for caravan sites. There is no longer any justification for that. We have no objection to those who wish to pursue a nomadic form of life, but they should not do so at a cost to the general taxpayer and should increasingly make their own provision.