Replying, minister David Maclean said that the nature of squatting makes it impossible to assess the number of squatters with any degree of accuracy, but estimates as to the total number of people squatting in England and Wales generally range between 30,000 and 50,000.
'More precise information is, however, available about the number of local authority dwellings under unauthorised occupation: on 1 April 1993 there 2,963 local authority dwellings so occupied, of which 88% were in inner London: Hackney 1,152; Lambeth 327; Tower Hamlets 232; Camden 153; and Islington 135 being among the areas worth affected.
Mr Maclean was also asked what information he had as to the number of squatter incidents where they had to move on in the last 12 months.
'From October 1992 to September 1993, 28,981 orders for possession were made by the civil courts as a result of actions for possession where the action was not a consequence of a default in mortgage payments. Of these 8,203 orders were granted to private landlords, 5,715 to housing associations and 15,063 to other social landlords, including local authorities.
'It is important to bear in mind however that these figures do not indicate how many properties were actually repossessed as not all the orders made will have resulted in the issue and execution of warrants of possession.'