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Park Home Residents: Legal Protection

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:47 am on 1st October 2019.

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Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 10:47 am, 1st October 2019

At the moment, the assurance I can give the right hon. Gentleman is that a statutory instrument will be laid before Parliament early next year and there will be legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows. I am sure the Minister for Housing will be happy to provide further clarity as soon as it is possible to do so.

I will briefly go into a bit more detail about two points I mentioned that are particularly pertinent. As we have heard, the sector is complex, highlighting the importance of the working group, which brings together local authorities, the British Holiday & Home Parks Association and the National Caravan Council, residents’ associations, LEASE and Age UK. A hugely important workstream for the group is on making sure that the communication of rights and responsibilities is as effective as possible.

We have talked about the age profile of a lot of people living in park homes. One of the important things for us to consider and remember and for the working group to ensure—certainly, it is in its recommendations to us—is the availability of information not only online, through the technological formats that we would use, but directly on sites and in paper copies. The working group has recommended that my Department should produce a single source of information and that all park home owners should be aware of it. The work is fully in train and will be made widely available, including paper copies.

I should like to give more detail about the introduction of the fit and proper person test. There was overwhelming support—not 100%, but overwhelming—for the introduction of such a test, in the review of legislation. We are committed to bringing it forward and putting it into effect, subject to the results of the technical consultation that closed on 17 September. We received 369 responses, 267 of which were from park home residents themselves—a good proportion. We also had representations from the legal sector, representative bodies, local authorities and the site licensing officers’ forum. We are looking at the responses now and will publish them before the end of the year.

During the debate, Jim Shannon asked whether the Department could make contact with Ards and North Down Borough Council. I am more than happy to make sure that that happens and would like to pass on my thanks to Councillor Edmund for the work that has been done in his area. My hon. Friend the Member for Waveney talked about the availability of guidance and advice and about the importance of making sure the working group information is available as quickly as possible. I assure him that the Minister for Housing sees that as a priority.

My hon. Friend Lee Rowley, who talked about the importance of the fit and proper person test, made a pertinent point about the joining up of local authorities and the conversations that they should be having. I shall make sure that that point is taken away.

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch raised some extremely pertinent points and I shall ask the Minister for Housing to investigate them all fully in advance of their forthcoming discussion.