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Gypsies and Travellers (Security of Tenure)

Volume 514: debated on Tuesday 27 July 2010

The Petition of Cathay Birch and others,

Declares that the European Court of Human Rights (in 2004) and the House of Lords (in 2008) have stated that the situation regarding the lack of security of tenure for Gypsies and Travellers on rented pitches amounted to a breach of Human Rights; that the Government said they would amend the law by including Council sites within the provisions of the Mobile Homes Act 1983; that the Government then released an e-mail to certain organisations on 10th February 2010 saying that they no longer had time to introduce the necessary amending powers; and that this has happened despite the fact that security of tenure could be introduced with a few simple sentences;

Further declares that the Petitioners believe the Government should take action now to resolve this breach of Human Rights by amending legislation to ensure Gypsies and Travellers on rented pitches have the same rights to security of tenure as other social housing tenants.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons call upon the Government immediately to bring forward proposals to amend the Act of Parliament pertaining to security of tenure of Gypsies and Travellers on rented pitches to ensure that security of tenure is given.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Julie Morgan, Official Report, 30 March 2010; Vol. 508, c. 787.]

[P000804]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

Section 318 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (the 2008 Act) removes the current exclusion of local authority Gypsy and Traveller sites from the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (the 1983 Act). The 1983 Act provides occupiers of pitches on residential mobile home sites with improved protection against eviction and other rights and responsibilities.

In late 2008 the previous Government conducted a consultation in response to concerns raised by local authorities and Gypsies and Travellers about the application of some of the 1983 Act. Following this consultation, statutory instruments were drafted that would commence section 318 and at the same time amend the 1983 Act for local authority Gypsy and Traveller sites. There was not enough Parliamentary time to debate these statutory instruments before the general election.

The new Government will be making a decision on section 318 in the context of a wider strategy they are developing in relation to Gypsies and Travellers and an announcement will be made in due course.