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Unauthorised Traveller Encampments

Volume 632: debated on Monday 4 December 2017

As my hon. Friend knows, the Government are concerned about unauthorised encampments and the effect they can have on settled communities. That is why we will be issuing a call for evidence on the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised developments and encampments. I will publish that call for evidence shortly.

On a daily basis, Central Bedfordshire Council is dealing with completely unacceptable numbers of unauthorised Traveller encampments. Many of those Travellers own land elsewhere, and many of their children are not in school, so when will the Government’s consultation lead to appropriate powers being made available to all local authorities, including my own?

I know that my hon. Friend has expressed views on this several times in the House. My Department is working closely with the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice to prepare the call for evidence. Once it is published, he and all Members with an interest will have an opportunity to set out their views.

Last month, the all-party group on Gypsies, Travellers and Roma, which I chair, met to discuss unauthorised encampments and possible positive solutions. We heard from a representative of the National Police Chiefs Council that the police do have adequate powers, and that unlawful trespass is not the answer and had not worked in Ireland. Will the Minister meet the all-party group and representatives of the community to talk about some of the positive solutions that could help to address this issue?

Of course I will meet the all-party group, but the whole point of a call for evidence is to allow everyone to feed in their views, and it is precisely those views that we want to hear. Following that, we will, of course, set out plans to take this further.