During a debate on Gypsies and Travellers in the House of Commons last night, Rayleigh and Wickford MP Mark Francois called on the Government to toughen the laws for dealing with illegal Traveller encampments, which have been a major problem in Essex over recent years.
During the debate the Minister for Housing and Planning, Alok Sharma MP, announced a review of the Government’s policy on Travellers and issued a “call for evidence” from people who have been effected by Traveller issues, with a view to seeing whether any further powers are necessary.
Seven Essex MPs participated in the debate, and in his contribution Mark welcomed the review and then called on the Government to adopt the so-called “Irish Option”, and copy the law in Ireland, where deliberate acts of trespass are treated as a criminal offence.
In making this argument Mark told the House of Commons:
“I believe we should now look across the Irish Sea for a solution and adopt the Irish Government’s system of making such deliberate acts of trespass a criminal offence. In fact, the Irish system is one reason why so many Traveller families from Ireland now come to the United Kingdom. By making this change I believe that we can provide a very real deterrent for those who seek to trespass quite deliberately on public land.” (Hansard, 9th October 2017, Col. 93)
Mark will now follow up his speech with a formal submission to Ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government, to make the case for this change in the law as part of the Government’s review.