Report (3rd Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 12th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Avebury Lord Avebury Liberal Democrat 9:15 pm, 12th March 2012

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Whitaker and Lady Turner, for their contributions to this debate. I should like to begin by pointing out that the noble and learned Lord did not cover the case of the family camped on the roadside for reasons of absolute desperation. There was nowhere else for them to go. They needed to consult a doctor and stopped temporarily in order to receive medical advice and treatment. That was the sort of case we had in mind when framing these amendments in consultation with the Community Law Partnership. It still seems to me that they should have the right to be able to contest an action for possession on public law grounds and that they should be able to do this in the county court. With respect, my noble and learned friend did not refute the allegation that it would be far more expensive to deal with these cases by way of judicial review in the High Court. All he said was that there would not be very many of them but that does not seem to be a very valid argument against the amendment.

The noble Baroness, Lady Turner, said that local authorities had an obligation to provide sites, which they manifestly have failed to honour. The noble Lord, Lord Bach, was good enough to quote what I said at an earlier stage about the contrast between regional spatial strategies under which definite plans were in hand to grant planning permission for sites. That was scrapped and we were left with the unfettered decisions of the local authorities, which I am afraid will not result in the delivery of the sites. My noble and learned friend mentioned the £47 million allocated by the Homes and Communities Agency to local authorities and social housing agencies to provide some 700 pitches. But the agencies in question have not even begun to identify the land on which this money will be spent, let alone apply for planning permission.

Figures provided by the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain in its survey of local authorities show that the number of sites for which planning permission is intended has plummeted by 50 per cent from the figures that were given in the regional spatial strategy. I consulted Essex County Council to see what was happening there. As noble Lords will recall, there was a high profile eviction case at Dale Farm in Basildon. The figures from the council show that under the regional spatial strategies, the minimum number of pitches that were to be provided by 2021 was 965, whereas the planned Gypsy and Traveller pitches in the individual local authority plans that have so far been developed under the present system total 93. So in the county of Essex the situation is worse even than the ITMB survey revealed. Only 10 per cent of the pitches that were intended under the regional spatial strategy are going to be granted planning permission in these particular local authorities. I hope to provide figures for the rest of the east of England, where the regional spatial strategy was fully developed under the previous Government, to show that the intentions of my noble friends of £47 million to provide pitches are pie in the sky. I will offer them 10 to one against the delivery of 700-odd pitches by 2015 for any level of bet they would like to take.

I am very disappointed that we have not been able to make more headway on this minor amendment, but as with the noble Lord, Lord Bach, on the previous amendment, I am afraid that we have come to it late at night, and I do not propose to press it to a Division. I shall withdraw the amendment with the utmost regret.

Amendment 77A withdrawn.

Amendments 77B to 78 not moved.

Amendment 79

Moved by Lord McNally

79: Schedule 1, page 147, line 18, at end insert-

"Terrorism prevention and investigation measures etc

39A (1) Civil legal services provided to an individual in relation to a TPIM notice relating to the individual.

(2) Civil legal services provided to an individual in relation to control order proceedings relating to the individual.

Exclusions

(3) Sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) are subject to the exclusions in Parts 2 and 3 of this Schedule.

Definitions

(4) In this paragraph-

"control order proceedings" means proceedings described in paragraph 3(1)(a) to (e) of Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 ("the 2011 Act");

"TPIM notice" means a notice under section 2(1) of the 2011 Act."