Gypsies and Travellers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:34 pm on 10th September 2018.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire 9:34 pm, 10th September 2018

A Labour council, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, has done very well with a temporary stopping site, which I will mention shortly, but integration rather than separation and segregation is the way forward towards better outcomes for everyone, as I have said a number of times.

The policy of segregation and separation has demonstrably failed. We need to build the homes that everyone in this country needs for all those who are here legitimately. It is not right that the Government repeatedly ask areas that already have large numbers of Travellers to provide more and more sites. Given the failure of the current policy, areas such as mine that already have large numbers of Travellers should not be forced to take any more by the Government and a flawed Planning Inspectorate that completely ignores the fact that many of our Traveller sites are owned by wealthy individuals who live elsewhere in bricks-and-mortar houses and sub-let their caravans to non-Travellers in often atrocious conditions. The Planning Inspectorate has even ignored advertisements on Rightmove offering accommodation on Traveller sites to the general public, claiming that they were not relevant.

We also need trespass to be made part of the criminal law, as it is in Ireland. That change in law has led to a significant increase in Irish-heritage Travellers coming to the United Kingdom. Is Ireland a cruel and inhumane country? Of course not, nor would the United Kingdom be if we were to change the law in the same way. To use a recent campaign cry, people want to take back control of what is being allowed to happen in their communities through a separate planning system that completely fails to provide equality under the law and produces terrible outcomes for settled residents and Travellers.