Clause 1 - Fees

Mobile Homes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 27th November 2012.

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Photo of Don Foster Don Foster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 2:00 pm, 27th November 2012

I beg to move amendment 3, in clause 1, page 1, line 11, after ‘means’, insert ‘, subject to subsection (8),’

Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow North West

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 4, in clause 1, page 1, line 21, after ‘conditions.’, insert—

‘(8) For the purpose of determining whether an application for a site licence is a relevant protected site application, any part of the application which is for the licence to permit the stationing of a caravan on the land for human habitation all year round is to be ignored if, were the application to be granted, the caravan would be so authorised to be occupied by—

(a) the occupier, or

(b) a person employed by the occupier but who does not occupy the caravan under an agreement to which the Mobile Homes Act 1983 applies (see section 1(1) of that Act).’.

Amendment 5, in clause 1, page 2, line 25, after ‘licence’, insert—

‘is, subject to subsection (6)’.

Amendment 6, in clause 1, page 2, line 26, leave out ‘is’.

Amendment 7, in clause 1, page 2, line 27, leave out ‘is’.

Amendment 8, in clause 1, page 2, line 29, after ‘habitation.’, insert—

‘(6) For the purpose of determining whether land is a relevant protected site, any provision of the relevant planning permission or of the site licence which permits the stationing of a caravan on the land for human habitation all year round is to be ignored if the caravan is so authorised to be occupied by—

(a) the occupier, or

(b) a person employed by the occupier but who does not occupy the caravan under an agreement to which the Mobile Homes Act 1983 applies (see section 1(1) of that Act).’.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Robertson. I was delighted to hear that you have a comfortable chair in which to sit, but I hope we will not detain hon. Members too long. May I say a huge thank you to all members of the Committee who, in their various ways, have contributed to the development of the Bill? In particular I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney on the huge amount of work he has done. It is an important Bill because it will bring some redress to older and vulnerable  people living in mobile homes, who sometimes suffer at the hands of unscrupulous site owners who have no respect for their rights or their health and safety. It is right and proper that action is taken to better protect those residents and their assets.

The Bill will go a long way in tackling the significant problems in the sector. That is why I am pleased to be supporting it on behalf of the Government. When it is enacted, it will make a huge difference to the lives of many mobile home residents. The whole Committee will want to thank my hon. Friend for the way he has approached the subject. This light-touch legislative proposal will not impact significantly on those site owners who run decent businesses operating within law. Basically, the Bill creates a level playing field to ensure that there is not unfair competition from unscrupulous site owners who ignore their obligations and the rights of others. It will help to put the industry on a sustainable footing for the future—one in which good owners can flourish and unscrupulous owners will wither.

The amendments aim to ensure that we get the definitions in the Bill absolutely clear. When the Government published our response to the consultation “A Better Deal for Mobile Home Owners” in September, we announced that the new proposed licensing regime would not apply to sites used exclusively for holiday purposes; it would apply only to sites on which residential caravans protected by the Mobile Homes Act 1983 were stationed, although this would include sites which had both holiday and residential pitches. There is, however, some doubt whether proposed new section 5A(5), inserted into the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 by clause 1(3), would achieve that policy objective, because the definition of “protected relevant site” only excludes sites that have a site licence or planning permission that are expressed to be for holiday use only, or otherwise expressed or subject to a condition that all-year-round stationing of a caravan for human habitation is prohibited.

That is where we are at the moment, but of course we have to recognise that many holiday sites might be occupied by the owner of the site all year round, and many will have permanent residential homes provided by the site owner as staff accommodation. We do not want those to be caught up in the definition. Planning permissions and site licences normally distinguish between holiday use and the provision of staff accommodation. Amendment 8 therefore clarifies that sites that include residential staff accommodation or that are also occupied by the owner do not come within the definition of a relevant protected site, because such occupation is to be disregarded when determining whether the site has residential mobile homes on it. However, a site will be a relevant protected site if any caravan is stationed on it and occupied by the resident under an agreement to which the Mobile Homes Act 1983 applies, even if the resident is employed by the site owner. That would ensure that a relevant protected site remained protected if, for example, one or more of the residents became employed by the site owner. Those changes are achieved by amendment 8, which inserts a new subsection (6) into proposed new section 5A of the 1960 Act.

Amendments 5, 6 and 7 are drafting amendments to proposed new section 5A(5) consequential to the insertion of proposed new subsection (6) by amendment 8. I trust the Committee is still following me.

Amendment 4 amends clause 1(2)(b), which inserts proposed new subsection (7) into section 3 of the 1960 Act, to define a relevant protected site application. That is important because it distinguishes between applications for the grant of a holiday site licence and applications for a residential site licence; the latter will be dealt with under the new licensing regime, for which a fee will be payable. Amendment 4 defines a relevant protected site for the purpose of such an application in the same terms as amendment 8 and inserts proposed new subsection (8) into section 3 of the 1960 Act to that effect.

Finally, amendment 3 is a consequential drafting amendment to proposed new subsection (7) of section 3 of the 1960 Act, as a result of the insertion of proposed new subsection (8).

Amendment 3 agreed to.

Amendments made: 4, in clause 1, page 1, line 21, after ‘conditions.’, insert—

‘(8) For the purpose of determining whether an application for a site licence is a relevant protected site application, any part of the application which is for the licence to permit the stationing of a caravan on the land for human habitation all year round is to be ignored if, were the application to be granted, the caravan would be so authorised to be occupied by—

(a) the occupier, or

(b) a person employed by the occupier but who does not occupy the caravan under an agreement to which the Mobile Homes Act 1983 applies (see section 1(1) of that Act).’.

Amendment 5, in clause 1, page 2, line 25, after ‘licence’, insert—

‘is, subject to subsection (6)’.

Amendment 6, in clause 1, page 2, line 26, leave out ‘is’.

Amendment 7, in clause 1, page 2, line 27, leave out ‘is’.

Amendment 8, in clause 1, page 2, line 29, after ‘habitation.’, insert—

‘(6) For the purpose of determining whether land is a relevant protected site, any provision of the relevant planning permission or of the site licence which permits the stationing of a caravan on the land for human habitation all year round is to be ignored if the caravan is so authorised to be occupied by—

(a) the occupier, or

(b) a person employed by the occupier but who does not occupy the caravan under an agreement to which the Mobile Homes Act 1983 applies (see section 1(1) of that Act).’.—(Mr Foster.)

Clause 1, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 to 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.