HC Deb 12 November 1968 vol 773 cc192-3
9. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he will make an Order bringing Part II of the Caravan Sites Act, 1968, into operation.

Mr. Greenwood

I repeat the assurance, given on 14th October, to the hon. Member, that the Order will be made as early as conditions allow, and that in the meantime loan sanction applications for the provision of permanent or temporary sites for gipsies will be sympathetically considered.—[Vol. 770, c. 34–5.]

Mr. Lubbock

Does the Minister agree that it is rather illogical for him to encourage local authorities to apply for loan sanctions, and to say that such applications will be sympathetically considered, yet to leave the whole of the burden of coping with the gipsy problem to those very few authorities which have actually done something in the last few months? Is he aware that only 350-odd pitches have been provided as compared with the many thousands that are needed if we are to deal with this problem adequately?

Mr. Greenwood

I know that the hon. Gentleman appreciates that I take as close an interest in this problem as he does, but in the present financial situation it would not be right to impose financial burdens upon local authorities who are expected to cut back as far as possible on any increases in expenditure which may be almost inevitable. Progress can be made, and is being made in various parts of the country. Certainly, loan sanction applications which come to us will be treated sympathetically.

Mr. Macdonald

As my right hon. Friend will be aware, now is the time when local authorities are preparing their estimates for 1969–70. Does he not realise that if Part II is not activated now it will be quite useless to attempt to activate it in six months' time, because there will not be any money available? Will he please think again and consider the extreme urgency of putting Part II into effect?

Mr. Greenwood

I should like to be able to give my hon. Friend that assurance, but I am afraid I cannot do so on this occasion. We have made a great step forward in getting this statutory provision, and I hope that economic circumstances in the not-too-distant future will allow further progress to be made.