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Standing Committee

1. The Bill shall be committed to a Standing Committee.

2. The Standing Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it shall meet.
3. Proceedings in the Standing Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Tuesday 1st May 2001.

Consideration and Third Reading

4. Proceedings on consideration shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at nine o'clock on the day on which those proceedings are commenced or, if that day is a Thursday, at six o'clock on that day.

5. Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at ten o'clock on the day on which those proceedings are commenced or, if that day is a Thursday, at seven o'clock on that day.
6. Sessional Order B (Programming Committees) made by the House on 7th November 2000 shall not apply to proceedings on consideration and Third Reading.

Lords messages

7. Paragraphs (6) and (7) of Sessional Order A (varying and supplementing programme motions) made by the House on 7th November 2000 shall not apply to proceedings on any motion to vary or supplement this order for the purpose of allocating time to proceedings on consideration of any messages from the Lords, and the question on any such motion shall be put forthwith.


Queen's recommendation having been signified--

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52(1)(a), (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills),

(a) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any expenditure incurred by the Secretary of State for or in connection with the carrying out of his functions under that Act; and

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(b) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable into the Consolidated Fund.--[Mr. Mike Hall.]

Question agreed to.


Motion made,

Line 31, at end add--
'( ) The committee shall have power to appoint a sub-committee, which shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, and to report to the committee from time to time.
( ) The committee shall have power to report from time to time the minutes of evidence taken before the sub-committee.
( ) The quorum of the sub-committee shall be three.'.-- [Mr. Mike Hall.]

Hon. Members: Object.


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [31 January],

Hon. Members: Object.


Motion made,

Line 40, before the word 'European' insert the words 'Environmental Audit Committee or with the'.
Line 50, before the word 'European' insert the words 'Environmental Audit Committee or with the'.
Line 52, at the end insert the words:--
'(4A) notwithstanding paragraphs (2) and (4) above, where more than two committees or sub-committees appointed under this order meet concurrently in accordance with paragraph (4)(e) above, the quorum of each such committee or sub-committee shall be two.'.--[Mr. Mike Hall.]

Hon. Members: Object.


Planning Application (Shrewsbury)

10.57 pm

Mr. Paul Marsden (Shrewsbury and Atcham): I present this petition with my wholehearted support as it is vital for the local economy and Shrewsbury Town football club that they have a new purpose-built, modern stadium with community sports facilities. In four years as an hon. Member, this is largest petition that I have presented to the House; it is signed by 2,281 people.

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The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

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Travellers' Camps (Skegness)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.--[Mr. Jamieson.]

10.59 pm

Sir Richard Body (Boston and Skegness): I applied for this Adjournment debate because, after I had arranged an appointment with the Minister to receive a civic deputation from Lincolnshire, I received a message that the meeting was to be cancelled, as the Minister had something more important to do, or words to that effect. I regret that no offer of an alternative date was made.

I was put in some difficulty because, when I had to report the news to the deputation, I was asked, not unnaturally, what other date was going to be offered. I have known cancellations before, and of course all hon. Members understand that they happen--however, I will have been in the House for 40 years in October, and I have never encountered such treatment from a Minister before. I had to tell the deputation that the matter was unfortunate, and that I would have to seek some other way to make representations to the Minister on behalf of Lincolnshire. That is the reason for this Adjournment debate.

I understand that I am far from being the first Conservative Member in this Parliament to suffer a cancellation such as that. Indeed, the most recent occasion was only a few days ago: a deputation was on its way to the Minister and had to be cancelled while it was making the journey. If that is how we are to be treated, so be it, but I regret it very much.

The Minister knows the reason for the debate. East Lindsey district council, at the request of the Lincolnshire police, has applied for an exclusion order for Skegness for four days over Easter. Information has been received that there may be a return visit of the travellers who came to Skegness over the Christmas and new year holiday.

I do not know whether the Minister knows Skegness. I hope that he does: he does not live far away, although on the wrong side of the Wash. However, if he has not visited the town already, I hope that he will one day. He is not eligible to be counted as one of the elderly people who enjoy their holidays there, nor as one of the young families with children who come to the town.

Skegness caters especially for those two types of visitor, and it has a number of distinctive features. Apart from the bracing air, it has the largest and most popular of all the Butlins holiday camps. It also has the second largest and most popular theme park in the country. It has the largest concentration of caravans in Europe: indeed, were it not for the one in California that slightly outstrips it, it would have the largest caravan concentration in the world.

There are more than 20,000 caravans in the area. They are used for holidays and weekends and they cater specifically for young people. A further several thousand caravans are permanently sited as homes for people who have come to live in Skegness. Thousands of people, such as retired miners and steelworkers from Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and elsewhere, have come to Skegness to retire.

That is a short word picture of the type of people who come to Skegness. The area has many thousands of visitors at Christmas and the new year, and I hope that

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the Minister will understand the effect on the town when 600 travellers descended in a long cavalcade of caravans. They broke through the barriers to the car parks and immediately began a course of behaviour in the town such that the police had to go to all the licensed premises-- the hotels, restaurants, cafes and other places of entertainment--to warn them that, with great regret, they could not guarantee people's safety.

Within a short time of their arrival, a group of about 10 travellers descended on a public house. Their obscenities and intimidating behaviour were such that the police were called; but, of course, the police could not attend all the incidents. It is not surprising that all those establishments closed from the Saturday evening before Christmas until after the new year.

The effect was to turn Skegness into a ghost town. The Embassy--a major entertainment centre--had to cancel all its events during that period. The caravans were so packed around the centre that the emergency services begged for the cancellation of the events. The centre did so without a qualm, because it would have been quite impossible for the emergency services to reach it. Sadly, because the hotels had to warn people about what had happened and had to close their doors and turn people away, they suffered considerably.

Over the years, Skegness has succeeded in becoming a place that people visit for short breaks throughout the year. That is important for employment. As the Minister may know, in other holiday resorts, hotels often close down at the end of the season; they dismiss their staff, perhaps re-engaging them in the spring. That is not the policy in Skegness. Hotels try to keep open so as to retain their staff and give them full-time work all year round. By doing so, they tend to lose money in the winter months. However, they can make good that loss--just--if they do a reasonable trade over Christmas and the new year. Sadly, a serious loss was incurred. They will have to reconsider their policy unless steps are taken to prevent a recurrence of those events.

As for the public houses, almost all of them closed on the advice of the police. The police obviously did not say that the public houses had to close, but they gave strong advice that was accepted by the licensed trade. The loss has yet to be quantified, but it runs to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds--perhaps millions. That has a serious effect on a comparatively small town.

Furthermore, people living in the town were put in fear. People stayed at home. I hope that the Minister can understand that elderly people did not wish to go out, as they were fearful about what was happening. I am sure that he will understand that parents with young children did not wish to go out and encounter such behaviour, so they stayed at home. The holiday period was ruined for many, many thousands of people--not fewer than 50,000 and probably more--by appalling behaviour. In addition, East Lindsey district council had to pay out about £10,000 to clear up the mess from the caravans.

An application for an order has been made and I understand that the Minister will consider it on Monday or Tuesday--I hope that he will do so sympathetically.

I appreciate that this is an issue of civil liberties, and that it is a serious matter to say even to 600 people that their freedom of movement should be curtailed and they

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should not be allowed to visit the town of their choice. However, I hope that the Minister will understand that many other thousands of people have a freedom too, or should have a freedom--that some 50,000 people should have the freedom to visit the town of their choice and enjoy a holiday, that their children should not be put in fear, and that elderly people should be able to visit licensed premises without being intimidated.

I hope that when the Minister weighs in the balance the freedom of the 600 to descend on Skegness, he also bears in mind the freedom of all those many thousands--no fewer than 50,000--to enjoy their Easter holiday. If these travellers return and behave as they behaved when they came at Christmas, the effect on Skegness could be catastrophic.

The Minister knows, because he is a man of Norfolk, the effect that the travellers' visit had on Yarmouth. An order was made to protect Yarmouth for last Christmas. Indeed, it was because of that order that the travellers came to Skegness. I hope that he will not be prejudiced against Lincolnshire and say, "We have got them out of Norfolk; they can go to Lincolnshire again." I am sure that he will not take that view. I hope that he will consider the application sympathetically and appreciate that a serious financial loss has already been incurred, that a great deal of unhappiness has been caused and that there are great anxieties about what may happen to the town at Easter if, on Monday or Tuesday--which is when I understand a decision will be taken--he does not make an order to protect so many thousands of people.

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