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Column 923Department is proceeding with the full survey on a national scale this year, and the results should be available towards the end of the year. The indications from both surveys are that problems of the kind the hon. Gentleman has been talking about do not appear to be widespread and would certainly not justify changes in the existing legislation.
I should like to say a little more about the problem of residents who are, or who feel they are, harassed by the site owner. Harassment is a very serious issue and one on which this Government have shown their determination to stand firm. We strengthened the law on harassment in the Housing Act 1988 and introduced a new right to civil damages. Local authorities have powers under section 3 of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 to prosecute site owners whom they consider guilty of harassment or of attempts at illegal eviction. Allegations of harassment must be very carefully looked into ; often it may be a matter of the parties misunderstanding each other's behaviour--the sort of issue which an established residents' association could sensibly handle with the site owner. However, where it is
Column 924a more serious issue, the necessary powers exist and it is for the local authories to use them to protect people living within their boundaries.
I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern for his constituents, but, as I have said, I cannot comment on a specific case that is before the courts. In general, I believe that the evidence is that those who have made agreements under section 1 of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 are adequately protected and that we do not need to introduce further changes to back up the protection given by that Act, the Caravan Sites Act 1968 and the initiatives that I am delighted were introduced by the industry.
If, after court proceedings are finished, the hon. Gentleman has further points arising from this case that he wishes to discuss with me or with my colleagues in the Welsh Office, we shall be delighted to listen. In the meantime, it has been of value to us all to listen to his comments in this debate.
Question put and agreed to.
Adjourned accordingly at fifteen minutes to Eleven o'clock.
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