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Park Homes

Volume 547: debated on Monday 2 July 2012

The treatment of residents on many park homes sites is simply unacceptable, and I welcome the Select Committee on Communities and Local Government’s important report, which highlights widespread abuse. The Government will therefore offer their full support to the Mobile Homes Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) in order to secure a better deal for residents.

I am grateful for the Minister’s reply. The inquiry took a good deal of evidence that criminal fraternities were making considerable inroads into the industry. Will he outline for the House what the proposed measures are going to do to rid that industry of such people?

I know my hon. Friend is a member of that Select Committee, and one of the most shocking things I found when I read the six volumes of written evidence that had been submitted was how many submissions had to be anonymous because the people giving evidence feared reprisals. It is completely unacceptable that bullies and thugs should intimidate some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The Housing Minister has published a consultation on the measures that are needed to deal properly with the problem and to drive out these rogues from the sector, including restricting their ability to block sales. Those measures will be reflected in our hon. Friend’s Bill, to which I hope the whole House will give its full support as it makes progress.

I belong to the all-party mobile homes group, and we have been campaigning for years to strengthen the hand of local authorities to enforce properly the licences that protect people who live on park home sites. Will the Minister outline the specific powers that local authorities are being given to ensure that the powers that they do have are properly enforceable?

Now is not the time, because the Bill will be published, as well as the response to the consultation. However, the hon. Lady can have my reassurance that the Select Committee’s recommendations on strengthening the ability of local authorities to prevent the owners of park homes from denying the rights that every other home owner reasonably expects will be present in the Bill.

I welcome the support that the Government will give to the private Member’s Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous). However, does the Minister agree with me and the Select Committee that the Bill should include reserve powers for a fit and proper person test should the welcome steps that the Government are already going to take not deliver justice for residents?

As I said, the Government will respond to the Select Committee’s report. The Select Committee, of which my hon. Friend is a member, said that the measure would be a big change in the regulation of the sector and that the best thing would be to carry out a review in a couple of years to see whether the changes had had an effect. That approach seems sensible.