Communities and Local Government Questions: Gypsy and Traveller Sites
Eleanor Laing challenges the Government over the use of compulsory purchase to provide sites for Gypsies and Travellers.
Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest) (Con): The Minister must recognise that no one on the Opposition side of the House objects to reasonable rights being given to Gypsies and Travellers. However, he and his Government are taking away the rights of other people in my constituency. Decent, normal, law-abiding, hard-working, tax-paying people are under threat of having the little pieces of land right next to their houses taken away by his Government, by compulsory purchase, to provide sites for Gypsies. What about the rights of the decent, hard-working taxpayers in my constituency?
Mr. Khan: Let me deal with the hon. Lady’s first point. Local authorities spend £18 million a year on enforcement action on unauthorised sites. If we can reduce the number of unauthorised sites by encouraging local authorities to provide authorised sites, that will reduce that bill. Secondly, I know from a letter that I have been passed by the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Wright), that the hon. Lady has been involved in a campaign that some would characterise as scaremongering about compulsory purchase orders in her community. There is no truth in the headlines. There is no requirement for local authorities to compulsorily purchase land for Gypsy or Traveller sites. I would ask, caution and counsel hon. Members to use their words carefully and to temper them when it comes to spreading stories that are factually incorrect and misleading.