HC Deb 16 February 1977 vol 926 cc484-6
9. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will order a review of the procedures for rating holiday caravans under a single hereditament per site in the Caravan Sites (Rating) Act.

Mr. Guy Barnett

No, Sir. As far as I am aware, the procedures laid down in the Act are proving satisfactory in operation and are working better than the previous arrangements under which holiday caravans were rateable individually.

Mr. Whitehead

Will my hon. Friend take it from me that that is not true and that a great deal of chaos is being caused as a result of the revaluation? Will he accept that the legislation we passed last year is being used as a front by many owners for unfortunate and regrettable behaviour in respect of the renewal of leases and collection charges? Will my hon. Friend agree to meet a deputation of Members from both sides of the House to discuss the matter, which is becoming a scandal?

Mr. Barnett

I shall be glad to discuss with my hon. Friend the issues that he has raised in his supplementary question. I shall be glad to go into them with him. However, in general our evidence is that the Act is working reasonably well.

Mr. Jim Lester

Will the hon. Gentleman take it from me that the Act is not operating very well? I make the same offer to the hon. Gentleman as I made to his predecessor, namely, the chance to come to the East Coast with Members from both sides of the House to see for himself what is happening in the area. Is he aware that people are being charged a fee for the collection of rates, and that some are being asked to pay rates for 1977–78 before the local authorities have even fixed them?

Mr. Barnett

I have heard reports of fees that I believe to be totally unjustified. I have already written to the Department of Prices and Consumer Protection on this issue.

Mr. John Ellis

Will my hon. Friend accept from me, along with other hon. Members who have asked supplementary questions, that all is not well in this sector and that for a variety of reasons the caravan owner still lacks many of the basic freedoms that others enjoy? He is imposed upon under this heading and many others. It is time that we did something to give caravan owners the normal rights that are enjoyed by others.

Mr. Barnett

I suspect that my hon. Friend is going a little wider than the Questions I think that he is raising issues such as security of tenure, which he may know is being studied as part of the mobile homes review. I take on board some of the points that he makes.