Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
It is a pleasure to introduce this Bill. It is a two-clause Bill, but the second clause covers only the Bill’s extent, commencement and short title, so it essentially has only two provisions. It arises directly from my long-standing interest in the welfare of park home residents. I have been privileged to be the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on park homes for more years than I can recall.
Mobile and park homes provide residential accommodation for about 85,000 households on some 2,000 sites in England. Most of those residents are of pensionable age. They normally own their own home, and they pay rent to the site owner for the land on which the home is stationed. Let me put it on the record that they are not bungalows. Some rogue firms out there are marketing new park homes as bungalows. I have written to the Advertising Standards Authority on the subject but have yet to receive a satisfactory response.
The Bill will make two changes to the Mobile Homes Act 1983 that will help all residents. The changes were set out by the Government in their response to their own call for evidence in their 2017 review of park homes legislation. On page 6 of the response, which was published on 2018, it says at paragraph 12:
“Some site owners pass on their repair, maintenance and other ad hoc costs to residents by requiring them to pay variable service charges in addition to the pitch fee.”
The Government response goes on to say, in a subsequent paragraph, that the
“Government wants to ensure that residents only pay for services that they are required to pay for through the pitch fee and will introduce legislation in due course to amend and clarify the definition of a pitch fee and prevent the use of variable service charges in written agreements, when parliamentary time allows.”
Well, parliamentary time does allow; it needs the will of Government. I hope we will hear from the Minister that the Government do have the will to implement what they said they wanted to do.