HC Deb 12 December 1983 vol 50 c661
6. Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether in the light of recent squatting incidents in mid-Wales, he will consider changes in (a) the law of trespass, and (b) the law relating to common land.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. John Stradling Thomas)

The recent announcement by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary of the preparation of proposals for a new criminal offence relating to trespass on residential premises in England and Wales represents the Government's view on the extent of the changes now needed in the law of trespass to deal with intrusions into people's homes. There are no present plans for further legislation on the question of trespass generally.

Mr. Hooson

The making of trespass on residential property a criminal offence is helpful and overdue, but does my hon. Friend agree that squatting also occurs outdoors — for example, near the Brecon Beacons mountain centre at Mynydd Illtyd? Is there not a need for a new legal category of public nuisance to prevent squatting on non-residential property, whether it be private or common land?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

As my hon. Friend and the House will be aware, we are dealing with a complicated area of the law. If my hon. Friend will give me details of the changes that he has in mind, I shall consider them and consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Dr. Roger Thomas

Is the Minister aware that some of us regard parts of north-east Dyfed as being in mid-Wales? Can he not strengthen the power of local authority planning and environmental health departments and, at times, even of the police, to prevent the increasing instances of great discord that hippies and such people cause in our community by squatting on land that they obviously do not own?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware that there are problems of enforcement in that area of the law. I should be grateful if he would send me any constructive suggestions that he may have to deal with that difficult section of the law.