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Definition of Gypsy Status

Volume 541: debated on Wednesday 29 February 2012

The Petition of supporters of the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that the present definition of “Gypsy Status” in the context of planning law puts Gypsy women who act as carers for their family or who are widowed or divorced in an unequal position; declares that the Petitioners believe that recent case-law shows that this is an increasing issue; declares that the Petitioners believe that the present definition is not a fair or equal one under the Equality Act 2010 and declares that in the light of the drafting of the new National Planning Policy Framework and the new Planning Policy Statement, this is an ideal time to look at this issue.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, together with the Equalities Minister, to urgently discuss the definition of ‘Gypsy’ status for the purposes of planning law with, among others, representatives of Romany Gypsies and English, Scots, Welsh and Irish Travellers.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Rory Stewart, Official Report, 18 January 2012; Vol. 538, c. 5P.]

[P000997]

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

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government published a draft new planning policy for Traveller sites for full public consultation in April 2011. The consultation included a question asking whether the current definitions of “gypsies and Travellers” and “travelling showpeople” for the purposes of planning policy should be retained in the new policy.

The current definition for planning purposes reflects the fact that many gypsies and Travellers stop travelling permanently or temporarily for health reasons or because of caring responsibilities but still want to maintain their traditional caravan-dwelling lifestyle.

In response to the question in our consultation, some respondents suggested that the Government hold a full, separate consultation on the definition of “gypsies and Travellers”. The Government are currently considering all the responses to the consultation.