Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Scrap metal reforms approved by Parliament
Metal recyclers will be subject to tougher licensing laws after the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill received final approval in Parliament yesterday (February 12).
The Bill aims to make it more difficult for criminals to trade stolen metal and will see stricter licensing requirements for scrap yards come into effect.
Key among the reforms is the closure of a loophole allowing itinerant traders to continue to pay cash for scrap metal, despite scrap yards being subject to a cashless system since December.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill was tabled by Conservative backbench MP Richard Ottaway as a Private Members Bill, which traditionally have little chance of making it into the statute book. However, Mr Ottaway’s Bill had the backing of opposition MPs and the Home Office, which helped ease its passage through Parliament.
The Bill is now due to receive Royal Assent, having received its Third Reading in the House of Lords yesterday.
Speaking following the third reading passage of the Bill in the House of Lords, Mr Ottaway said: “Today marks a significant victory for communities throughout the country. For too long they have provided rich feeding grounds for opportunistic thieves who know they can get rid of stolen metals at rogue or negligent scrap yards.
“Metal theft is no petty crime. It hits at the heart of our daily lives – grinding trains to a halt, cutting off power supplies to hospitals and other lifelines, stripping roofs off churches and schools at huge public expense.”
Among the measures introduced in the Bill, local authorities will be responsible for issuing a licence to trade in scrap metal. Councils will also have the power to revoke or suspend a licence.
In addition, the Environment Agency will be responsible for maintaining a register of all licensed scrap dealers in the UK, which will be made publicly available. And, it will also be a legal requirement for photographic proof of identity to be produced at the point of sale of scrap.
Police and local authorities will also be given greater powers to enter and inspect unlicensed scrap yards, with clause nine of the bill allowing entry to these premises with a court order.
The news has been welcomed by the Local Government Association (LGA), the body representing councils in the UK.
Councillor Mehboob Khan, chairman of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “This is excellent news for councils up and down the country who have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous metal thieves. The passing of this important Bill shows ministers have listened to the LGA and others who have long argued that action must be taken to tackle this blight on our communities. Thefts of scrap metal have been spiralling out of control, and this has been in no small part down to the lack of adequate legislation for regulating scrap yards.
“This will be a huge step towards tackling a national problem which has cost the country hundreds of millions of pounds and caused chaos, disruption and heartache for millions. By supporting Richard Ottaway's Bill, MPs of all political parties have recognised what a major issue this is.
“Councils have long been clear that we need a comprehensive and modern system for running the metal recycling industry, with a proper licensing system to hold scrapyards to account.”
The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent before Easter.