Gypsies and Travellers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:55 pm on 10th September 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 9:55 pm, 10th September 2018

I congratulate my hon. Friend Andrew Selous on his speech. He was a magnificent Prisons Minister, but I have now seen a new side to him. He did not mess about with weasel words; he told it like it is, and I agreed with everything he said. I support the Irish option, which I dare say my right hon. Friend Mr Francois may have something to say about if he catches your eye, Mr Speaker.

I want to say this to my hon. Friend: I have been in the House a little while, and this is not the first time that we have had a debate on this issue. Week in, week out, month in, month out, year in, year out, someone raises this matter on the Adjournment. Colleagues are told to come in to make interventions. The Whips are there taking notes and the Minister is looking very concerned. All colleagues hear these stories of people breaking into parks and breaking into play areas. My goodness, Mr Speaker, this year, a crowd of these people, who are not genuine poor Travellers, turned up and pitched their caravans in a big circle in our beautiful Priory park. They took out their deckchairs and then were absolutely threatening to the local population who happened to be playing organised games with the children. They turned up on Southend seafront and took out their deckchairs. This is going on morning, noon and night. Colleagues stand up and tell the House and the Minister how dreadful it is. Everyone looks concerned and absolutely nothing happens; nothing at all changes.

My hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire has had, I think, two Adjournment debates on the matter. I had an Adjournment debate earlier this year. We had a meeting with the Secretary of State. The officials were there. Everyone was very, very anxious, but nothing ever changes.

Sandy Martin rightly pointed out alternative arrangements. I agree with him completely, but what I am talking about is the situation where local Members of Parliament, of all parties, are blamed for this issue. It is said that we are doing absolutely nothing about it and that no action is being taken.

This cannot go on. I do not know whether my hon. Friend is expecting any different result from this Adjournment debate tonight, but I absolutely share his anger and I join him in the challenge. I really congratulate him on raising this issue, but if he finds that, once again, nothing at all positive happens, I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with him until this situation is at long last addressed.