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Howard: Fair play on planning

Speech at Conservative Campaign Headquarters

"I believe in fair play. The same rules should apply to everyone - whatever your background, whatever the colour of your skin, whatever your sex or religion. I don't believe in special rules for special interest groups.

We are all British. We are one nation.

I believe that different people, from different communities should be free to lead their lives in different ways. But freedom comes with a responsibility - the responsibility to do the right thing by your community.

Many travellers accept this, living happily in neighbourhoods across our country. Sadly, a small minority of travellers do not. They are openly abusing our planning system.

People claim it's racist to raise this issue. It is not. It has nothing to do with race. It's about standing up for the right values. It's about common sense. And it's about making sure that people abide by the law.

If you want to build a new home, you have to get planning permission first. And if you don't, you can be fined or forced to pull it down. That's fair enough because we need to protect our local environment.

But if you are a traveller you can use the so-called Human Rights Act to bend planning law - building where you like. That's just not fair. There shouldn't be one rule to travellers and another for everyone else.

This is one of the reasons why the Conservative Party is reviewing the Human Rights Act. And if can't be improved we will scrap it.

People realise that there are too many in Britain today who hide behind so-called human rights to justify doing the wrong thing. "I've got my rights" has become the verbal equivalent of two fingers to authority. The rights culture has blurred the difference between right and wrong and it's taking Britain in the wrong direction.

I believe in a Britain where fair play matters.

So people will face a clear choice at the election - a choice between a Conservative Government which upholds the law and Mr Blair who turns a blind eye when the rules are abused."

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