HC Deb 11 January 1978 vol 941 cc1654-5
10. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with Greater Manchester Council and Stockport metropolitan borough about the provision of a permanent gipsy site in Stockport.

Mr. Denis Howell

None, Sir. This is primarily a matter for the two councils, which have the statutory responsibilities.

Mr. Bennett

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the legislation was introduced over 10 years ago to endeavour to solve the problems both of gipsies and of those who have to put up with temporary unsatisfactory gipsy sites close to them? Can he not now inject a sense of urgency into local authorities to see that they produce a solution equitable to both gipsies and to those people who have to put up with them on unsatisfactory temporary sites?

Mr. Howell

I have a great deal of sympathy with that supplementary question, which is why the Cripps Report was commissioned. Most people agree that it was an extremely valuable document, pointing the way forward in this direction, with a sensible balance between the conflicting interests. We are certainly urging local authorities to implement the report's provisions with the utmost urgency.

Mr. James Lamond

Does my right hon. Friend realise that there are implications for other metropolitan district councils in Greater Manchester because of the dragging of feet by Stockport and three of the other metropolitan boroughs which have so far taken no action in this matter? This means that citizens in boroughs such as Oldham cannot reap the benefit from having acted expeditiously and provided a site some years ago.

Mr. Howell

I understand that the Greater Manchester Council provided five permanent sites for 60 caravans, with two temporary sites for a further 15 caravans, and I believe that the Council is now considering two additional sites. It is for local authorities to carry out their statutory obligations. Clearly, the Government cannot comment on the detailed provision by every local authority in the country.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Will the Minister be prepared to designate small, limited areas which have fulfilled their duties and provided camp sites, without waiting for a whole county to be designated, as in the case of Lancashire and Lancaster for example?

Mr. Howell

I think that the logic of the Cripps Report pointed in that direction.

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