Mobile Homes Act 1983 (Amendment) Bill DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Christopher ChopeMain Page: Christopher Chope (Conservative - Christchurch)
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(4 months ago)Commons Chamber
The hon. Gentleman referred to the charges that are made; does he agree that quite often those charges are made but the work is not actually carried out? Many owners are just interested in cramming as many mobile homes on to sites as possible.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that we want to help the good park owners. Changing the index of calculations from the retail prices index to the consumer prices index will obviously reduce the income for improvements. I am sure we will consider the matter in Committee, but will he assure the House that he will allow good park home owners the latitude and finances necessary to make necessary improvements to the site?
I thank my hon. Friend for bringing this Bill forward. It is a matter of regret that there has not previously been parliamentary time. I sincerely hope that the Minister, with her good civil servants working hard behind the scenes, will find a way to do a write-around or whatever is needed to move forward on this issue. The important thing is that there are really good mobile park owners and there are absolute rogues. Our first interest is the consumer protection of our constituents, so I wish my good friend all the best with the Bill.
Labour welcomes the chance to debate this Bill. We would have welcomed sight of it sooner in order really to understand the implications of the measures it contains and to ensure that relevant stakeholders could have made their views known. We would like a full impact assessment of the proposed changes, to understand why they are needed and to ensure that this is a fair deal for all involved. It is important that people pay fair fees for their pitches each year and that there is no chance they can be taken advantage of.
I thank the hon. Member for Bradford West (Naz Shah) for her comments and congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) on securing this debate. I also thank him for his tireless work as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on park homes. He should not have admitted to being the chair for so long, but all Members of the House recognise his work in this area and he has been a consistent and powerful voice on these issues.
As my hon. Friend outlined, the Government are committed to effective reform of the park homes sector. As he has outlined, I have been unable to support the Bill’s current drafting, but I have agreed and am keen to work with him, and other members of the all-party group, to explore options regarding how we can bring forward these priorities and deliver on the ambition that we all share, which is to better protect park home residents. I hope that he will commit to working with me in the following weeks to do so. Before addressing the specifics of the Bill, I wish to thank my hon. Friend the Member for South Derbyshire (Mrs Wheeler) for the role she played and the work she did when she was the Minister responsible for this area.
I am willing to work with my hon. Friend and my officials over the coming weeks, so that we can bring something forward and support something, so that is entirely correct. But as I have said, there are certain parts of the Bill that at this point I am unable to support Bill. However, I hope he will take my assurances from the Dispatch Box as a commitment to do that because when I say things I generally mean them, and I hope that even Opposition Members agree that, if I agree to do something for them, I follow through.
My hon. Friend outlined some of the Bill’s specifics, and I want to move on to those, but the park homes sector plays a vital role in housing, especially for older people. As he said, it provides valued homes for around 180,000 people.