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Gypsy and Traveller Sites

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2010

8. What progress has been made in providing security of tenure for Gypsies and Travellers on local authority sites. (321003)

I begin by paying to tribute to my hon. Friend for her chairing of the all-party group on Gypsy and Traveller law reform. The Government remain committed to bringing security of tenure to local authority Gypsy and Traveller sites, which is a complex issue involving amendments to primary legislation that we must get right. Statutory instruments will be laid as soon as parliamentary time is available.

I am dismayed that Gypsies and Travellers as yet have no security of tenure, bearing in mind that the Connors judgment in the European Court was six years ago and the Government’s proposals to change the law using the Mobile Homes Act 1983 were more than two years ago. There has been intensive discussion with Gypsies and Travellers and with support groups, and I wish to express my extreme dismay. What hope can the Government give Gypsies and Travellers who are living in uncertain situations and who had great hopes of this Government?

I absolutely understand my hon. Friend’s frustration, and I know of her commitment to the matter. I think she will fully understand my commitment to it, too. I recently became the first Minister to visit a Gypsy and Traveller site. We are completely committed to the issue. I know that she wants me to say that I will consider the timing, but it would be disingenuous of me to say that knowing that in practical terms, it would be impossible to lay an instrument before Parliament this side of a general election, so I can only apologise.