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Volume 589: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2014

1. What steps Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is taking to ensure that urgent cases to remove trespassers from land are dealt with as quickly as possible. (906633)

HMCTS treats such applications with the utmost urgency. Hearing notices are served by hand and hearings before a judge are listed urgently, normally immediately after the two days’ notice period. Warrants are enforced by bailiffs as a matter of priority.

I thank my hon. Friend for helping me to resolve an urgent constituency case involving a mass trespass in Letchworth, and for doing so speedily. Is it his Department’s policy, and are the courts aware, that it is vital that these cases are dealt with speedily in order to avoid the risk of nuisance to local residents, as happened in Letchworth?

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his kind comments. It was a pleasure to be able to help out in his constituency matter. He is right: there are existing processes that enable such cases to be dealt with and I am keen that they are dealt with speedily. I will certainly make sure that Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is made well aware of that principle.

I would like to applaud the swift work of Basingstoke and Deane borough council in stopping unauthorised activity this year at Dixon road in my constituency, with the Crown Prosecution Service successfully prosecuting last week those who felled up to 800 trees on that site. Does the Minister agree that tougher fines might also help to deter this sort of criminal activity?

I join my right hon. Friend in congratulating her council. We have a lot of measures to deal with trespassers. On increasing fines, we are always on the lookout for ways of improving the law and I will take that on board.