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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 05:16 GMT
Howard to set out traveller plans
Traveller camp near Windsor
Gypsy and traveller campaigners have called for more legal sites
Michael Howard is preparing to set out his party's plans to tackle illegal traveller sites amid claims the Tories are trying to start a race row.

In newspaper advertisements ahead of Monday's speech, the Tory leader said travellers were using the Human Rights Act to avoid planning regulations.

The Tories denied Labour's claims they were "tapping into the biggest vein of bigotry - prejudice against Gypsies".

Conservative policy chief David Cameron said the issue was about "fair play".

Mr Howard said in his advertisements: "If you want to build a new home you have to get planning permission first.

Review of the Human Rights Act to ensure it does not clash with laws against unauthorised land development
New powers for councils to remove illegal caravans and the option of larger court fines
Local authorities to be able to purchase land compulsorily where there is a continuing breach of a Stop Notice
Revised guidance to police on traveller trespass and criminal or anti-social behaviour on traveller sites
Empowering local people to decide on the location of traveller sites

"But if you are a traveller you can bend planning law - building where you like thanks to the Human Rights Act."

The Conservatives have already said they intend to review the act and scrap it if it cannot be rewritten to their satisfaction as part of a five-point plan to deal with illegal encampments.

But Gypsy and Traveller Law Reform Coalition co-ordinator Andrew Ryder on Sunday said Mr Howard was trying to "surf on the prejudice and hysteria stoked up" by the media.

"Are travellers not to have human rights or protection from human rights legislation?" he said, adding more sites for travellers were needed.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said the Conservatives were pandering to a mistaken view that the Human Rights Act undermines British culture.

What Michael Howard is likely to propose

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