I congratulate Mr. Gummer on securing this debate on park homes. The case that he has outlined is extremely distressing, and I wish Mr. and Mrs. Ellis all the very best. Unfortunately, it is clear from the right hon. Gentleman's contribution and from interventions by Mr. Turner and my hon. Friend Mr. Devine, that there is a culture of unscrupulous behaviour and bad practice in this sector on the part of site owners.
I think that the House would accept that, as the right hon. Gentleman himself said, that those owners represent a minority of the sector and most sites are managed by professional and competent persons who maintain good professional and sometimes caring relationships with their residents. In support of that view, I am very much aware of the efforts of the trade organisations to secure high standards of performance and behaviour among their members and to promote good practice.
Unfortunately, as the right hon. Gentleman said and as I often see from correspondence I receive directly from residents or through hon. Members, professionalism is not universal in this sector and the standards of management on some sites are clearly woefully inadequate. Moreover, as the right hon. Gentleman said and if what is reported is correct, a few cases that I have read about are criminal—quite literally criminal. Because of their vulnerability, many park home residents—very much like Mr. and Mrs. Ellis—are simply not able to stand up to those owners. As this industry promotes itself as being particularly suitable for the older members of our community, it must cater for their needs as consumers, yet some site owners clearly take advantage of and exploit their residents—precisely because of their vulnerability. The truth is that, in some cases, we have to accept that only enforcement with meaningful penalties—focused and targeted enforcement—is likely to change behaviour or drive the unprofessional operators out of the sector.
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