Consideration Stage

Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 pm on 21st February 2011.

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Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent 3:45 pm, 21st February 2011

I call the Minister of the Environment, Mr Edwin Poots, to move the Consideration Stage of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill.

Moved. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

Members will have a copy of the Marshalled List of amendments detailing the order for consideration. The amendments have been grouped for debate in the provisional grouping of amendments selected list.

There are four groups of amendments. The first debate will be on amendment Nos 1 and 2, which relate to a code of practice for dealing with litter offences. The second debate will be on amendment Nos 3 to 12, which deal with a strengthening of provisions mainly relating to graffiti and other defacement. The third debate will be on amendment Nos 13, 15, 16, 17 and 21, which are technical and consequential amendments. The fourth debate will be on amendment Nos 14, 18, 19, 20 and 22, which address how subordinate legislation will be handled.

Once the debate on each group is completed, any further amendments in the group will be moved formally as we go through the Bill, and the Question on each will be put without further debate. The Questions on stand part will be taken at the appropriate points in the Bill. If that is clear, we shall proceed.

Clauses 1 to 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 16 (Litter offence: fixed penalty notice)

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

We now come to the first group of amendments for debate, which relate to a code of practice. Members should note that amendment Nos 1 and 2 are mutually exclusive.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I beg to move amendment No 1: In page 14, line 37, at end insert

“(2A) After paragraph (8) insert—

‘(8A) The Department shall prepare and issue, and may from time to time revise, a code of practice for the purpose of providing guidance on the giving by authorised officers of notices under this Article.

(8B) An authorised officer must have regard to the code of practice as for the time being in force in determining whether to give a person a notice under this Article.

(8C) A draft of the code of practice, or any revision of the code of practice, shall be laid before the Assembly.

(8D) If, within the statutory period beginning with the day on which a copy of the draft is laid before the Assembly, the Assembly so resolves, no further proceedings shall be taken in relation to the draft but without prejudice to the laying before the Assembly of a new draft.’.”

The following amendment stood on the Marshalled List:

No 2: After clause 16, insert the following new clause

“Litter offence: code of practice

16A.—(1) Article 9 of the Litter (Northern Ireland) Order 1994 (NI 10) shall be amended as follows.

(2) In paragraph (1) after the word ‘by’ insert ‘Article 6 or’.

(3) In paragraph (3) after the word ‘by’ insert ‘Article 6 or’.” — [The Chairperson of the Committee for the Environment (Mr Boylan).]

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Clause 16 provides for fixed penalties for litter offences that can be given by a person authorised by a council for the purposes of giving notices under article 6 of the Litter (Northern Ireland) Order 1994.

Although the Bill was originally silent on whom a fixed penalty notice could be given to, the Committee for the Environment expressed concern about giving fixed penalty notices to juveniles. The Committee was of the opinion that statutory guidance on the giving of fixed penalty notices to juveniles should be provided by my Department and tabled an amendment to that effect.

I have no objection to that proposal, in principle, as my Department had always intended issuing guidance on the giving of fixed penalty notices to juveniles. However, the amendment that the Committee tabled was considered to be defective on a number of counts. I, therefore, tabled amendment No 1, which provides that, in determining whether to give a fixed penalty notice under article 6 of the Litter Order, an authorised officer must have regard to a code of practice issued by my Department for the time being in force.

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Ar son an Choiste Comhshaoil, cuirim fáilte roimh Chéim an Bhreithnithe den Bhille um Chomharsanachtaí Glana agus an Timpeallacht.

On behalf of the Environment Committee, I welcome the Consideration Stage of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill. The Bill was referred to the Committee on 30 June 2010 and, to ensure that there was enough time to scrutinise the Bill fully and effectively, the Committee sought an extension to 28 January 2011.

There were 21 written submissions to the Committee’s call for evidence on the Bill and the Committee took oral evidence from six organisations, including the Northern Ireland Local Government Association and Countryside Alliance. The main objective of the Bill is to improve the quality of the local environment by giving district councils additional powers to deal with litter, nuisance alleys, graffiti, fly-posting, abandoned and nuisance vehicles, dogs, noise and statutory nuisance. It is welcome legislation that should lead to an improvement in people’s everyday lives.

The Committee made eight recommendations in relation to the Bill, and the Department agreed to amend three clauses to address some of those. In addition, the Committee accepted the advice of the Examiner of Statutory Rules relating to seven powers in the Bill that will allow the Department to make orders to alter the amount of a fixed penalty notice. The Department agreed to amend those in accordance with the Committee’s recommendation.

I will now touch on the amendments in the first group. In its deliberations on clause 16, the Committee was concerned to learn that, because the age of criminal responsibility is 10, as set by different legislation, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill will allow councils to issue fixed penalty notices to children as young as that. Several children’s and youth organisations expressed concern about the implications of that, and members recognised the need for special guidance to be provided for councils when considering issuing a fixed penalty notice to children. The Committee sought reassurance that such guidance would be provided and the Department indicated that it intended to produce advice along the lines of that used in other jurisdictions. The Committee welcomed that, but sought more assurance that guidance would protect minors.

The Committee recommended that the Department amend clause 16 so that it would be required to issue guidance to councils on adopting special procedures for issuing notices to young offenders. That was to ensure that their function of issuing fixed penalty notices for litter offences to juveniles would be discharged in a way that safeguards and upholds the welfare of children. In the absence of a departmental amendment to that effect, the Committee agreed clause 16 subject to its own amendment. However, on being advised by the Minister last week that he would bring forward an alternative amendment to that effect, members were content to agree the departmental amendment at the meeting on 17 February 2011.

The Committee welcomed the fact that the Department’s amendment would make it mandatory for councils to adhere to the code of practice that the Department would have to produce and that fixed penalties could not be issued until such a code was in place. There was some concern that the proposed amendment did not specifically mention juveniles, but, on being advised that the code would have to be affirmed by the Assembly, members were content to support it. I welcome the Minister’s confirmation that the issuing of fixed penalty notices to minors will be covered extensively in guidance and, on that proviso, on behalf of the Committee, I support amendment No 1.

Photo of Danny Kinahan Danny Kinahan UUP

I, too, am very pleased to speak on the Bill and welcome many of the matters in it, particularly those in relation to abandoned vehicles, litter, graffiti and much more. I feel that there is much agreement on the Bill, so I will not spend too long speaking on it. I am, however, concerned that even in this relatively small Bill, there is some concern that councils may need more resources, yet I know that the Minister feels that there is a little bit of fat in councils. I feel that there is a cost element to the legal side, in training council staff and those who work through the councils.

I am very pleased to see the code of practice, as we had discussed it in the Committee and all agreed that some form of guidance was needed. Therefore, I look forward to seeing the guidance, but it must be fair and, more importantly, it must be effective. We support the first two amendments.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Like other Members who spoke, I will also be brief. A lot of the issues were gone into in considerable detail at the Committee. We support the initial amendment as outlined by the Minister and welcome the guidance to be introduced, because clearly there are all sorts of sensitivities when dealing with young people, and members recognised that at Committee. The introduction of such guidance should be useful for councils as they take forward what will be a raft of legislation that will, hopefully, lead to an enhancement of our neighbourhoods and tackle the issues of graffiti and abandoned vehicles and generally leave a good sense of well-being in our communities, as councils are empowered by the enactment of the legislation. The previous Member to speak referred to the necessity to be brief. I join him in welcoming the amendment, and I thank the Minister for introducing the Bill.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance 4:15 pm, 21st February 2011

I, too, support the Bill and the amendments. The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill is one of two environment Bills that will pass through the Assembly today. It is important to note that both could improve the quality of life of local people in a tangible way. So I thank the Minister for introducing this Bill.

My only regret is that it took so long to consider the Bill, as my local council’s environmental health officers have been burning my ear about it for a number of years. To improve neighbourhoods, they need legislation to help them to tackle issues such as littering, graffiti, unkempt gardens and fly-posting, not least because the presence of such antisocial behaviour often breeds further and more serious criminal damage.

Therefore, I welcome the provisions and the first group of amendments, which, as was said, will set clear guidelines for council officers in exercising the powers enacted by the legislation, particularly when issuing fixed penalty notices to minors.

Photo of Willie Clarke Willie Clarke Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. First, I will speak about the code of practice, particularly with regard to minors. I found it shocking that a fixed penalty could be given to a 10-year-old for dropping a crisp packet or an apple core. That is not acceptable to me, and I appreciate the fact that the Minister will introduce guidelines on dealing with minors.

Special guidance is needed when dealing with children. It is a sensitive issue to penalise a 10-year-old for a pretty minor offence. The child then has to go home and face the wrath of his her parents. That could have a devastating impact on a child’s development, so it cannot be taken lightly.

From speaking to a number of children, particularly my seven-year-old daughter, I think that young children are more responsible than the older generations. Schools provide a lot of good environmental education, and young children are more conscious of their environment and of keeping it clean. They have a clear understanding of the damaging impact that litter can have, particularly on animals’ welfare.

A lot of the issues that came up at Committee concerned penalising very young people. The suggestion was that littering was their fault. Even some Committee members felt that young people were the cause of so much litter. So I welcome the guidelines and support the Minister’s proposal.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I thank the Chairperson of the Committee for supporting the amendment to the clause. The code of conduct will be mandatory, and it will be useful to councils as they implement the legislation.

Chris Lyttle explained why he thought that the Bill would be good, and that was my thought process prior to introducing it to the House. All the issues that he identified are issues that we are well aware of. One such issue is that of gaps in legislation. As far as possible, we need to assist local government in its difficult task of trying to keep Northern Ireland clean and making it a better place. We are often criticised, particularly by people from outside Northern Ireland, for it not being as clean as it should be, and I would like to change that.

We need to develop an attitudinal change. Mr Clarke should, perhaps, read the words of Solomon:

“Train up a child in the way that he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

If you train children when they are younger to keep their areas and neighbourhoods clean, they will be unlikely to litter them when they get older. If you train children when they are young to respect the environment, they are unlikely to be polluters when they are older.

We need to encourage everyone, including young people, to show the proper degree of courtesy and respect for the environment that they live in. Everyone, including young people, will benefit from having that better environment.

I encourage the House to support amendment No 1.

Question, That amendment No 1 be made, put and agreed to.

Clause 16, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

Amendment No 2 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 1. Amendment No 1 has been made, so I will not call amendment No 2.

Clauses 17 to 25 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 26 (Penalty notices for graffiti and fly-posting)

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

We now come to the second group of amendments for debate, which relate to the strengthening of provisions on graffiti and other defacement. With amendment No 3, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 4 to 12.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I beg to move amendment No 3: In page 28, line 8, leave out “obliteration” and insert “defacement”.

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 4: In page 28, line 20, at end insert

“(12) In Article 87(11) of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 at the end add ‘and to an authorised officer of a district council (within the meaning of section 26 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011) acting in connection with an offence under paragraph (1).’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 5: In clause 31, page 29, line 27, leave out “flyer” and insert “placard”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 6: After clause 35, insert the following new clause

“Removal or obliteration of graffiti, placards and posters

35A. For Article 18 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (NI 15) (removal of graffiti and fly posters) substitute—

‘Removal or obliteration of graffiti, placards and posters

18.—(1) Subject to the following provisions of this Article, a district council may remove or obliterate—

(a) any graffiti which, in the opinion of the council, is detrimental to the amenity of any land in its district;

(b) any placard or poster which is displayed in its district and which, in the opinion of the council, is so displayed in contravention of regulations under Article 67 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991.

(2) Where any graffiti, placard or poster to which sub-paragraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (1) applies identifies the person who displayed it or caused it to be displayed, a district council may give that person notice in writing—

(a) that the council is of the opinion mentioned in that sub-paragraph in respect of the graffiti, placard or poster specified in the notice;

(b) requiring that graffiti, placard or poster to be removed or obliterated within the period of 2 days beginning with the date of service of the notice; and

(c) stating the effect of paragraph (3).

(3) Where—

(a) a district council serves a notice on a person under paragraph (2) in relation to any graffiti, placard or poster, and

(b) the person fails to remove or obliterate it within the period mentioned in that paragraph, the council may recover summarily as a civil debt from that person the expenses it may reasonably incur in exercising its power under paragraph (1).

(4) Where—

(a) any graffiti, placard or poster to which paragraph (1)(a) or (b) applies does not identify the person who displayed it or caused it to be displayed, but

(b) the graffiti, placard or poster publicises the goods, services or concerns of an identifiable person, paragraphs (2) and (3) have effect as if the reference in paragraph (2) to the person who displayed the graffiti, placard or poster or caused it to be displayed were a reference to the person whose goods, services or concerns are publicised.

(5) For the purpose of exercising any power under paragraph (1) a person authorised in writing by the council for the purposes of this Article may at any reasonable time enter any land if—

(a) the land is unoccupied, and

(b) it would be impossible to exercise the power without entering the land.

(6) Where any damage is caused to land or chattels in the exercise of any power under paragraph (1), compensation may be recovered from the district council exercising the power by any person suffering the damage (other than the person who displayed the graffiti, placard or poster or caused it to be displayed).

(7) Any question of disputed compensation shall be referred to and determined by the Lands Tribunal.

(8) Nothing in this Article authorises the removal or obliteration of any graffiti, placard or poster displayed—

(a) within a building to which there is no public right of access; or

(b) on land owned or occupied by a body established by or under a statutory provision.

(9) This Article and Article 19 are without prejudice to Article 67 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 (control of advertisements), and to Article 84 of that Order (enforcement of advertisement control), and to any regulations made under that Order by virtue of those Articles.’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 7: In clause 36, page 32, line 35, leave out “16” and insert “18”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 8: In clause 36, page 33, line 5, leave out “16” and insert “18”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 9: In clause 37, page 33, line 26, leave out “as follows” and insert

“in accordance with subsections (2) and (3)”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 10: In clause 37, page 33, line 33, at end insert

“(3A) Article 87 of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 (NI 15) (control of advertisements, etc.) is amended in accordance with subsections (3B) and (3C).

(3B) In paragraph (9) for ‘that it was displayed without his knowledge or consent’ substitute ‘either of the matters specified in paragraph (9A)’.

(3C) After that paragraph insert—

‘(9A) The matters are that—

(a) the advertisement was displayed without his knowledge; or

(b) he took all reasonable steps to prevent the display or, after the advertisement had been displayed, to secure its removal.’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 11: After clause 37, insert the following new clause

“Supplementary

Power of district councils to obtain information

37A.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), a district council may serve on any person a notice requiring that person to supply to the council, within a period or at times specified in the notice and in a form so specified, any information so specified which the council reasonably considers that it needs for the purposes of any function conferred on the council by this Part.

(2) Regulations may restrict the information which may be required under subsection (1) and determine the form in which the information is to be so required.

(3) A person who—

(a) fails without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirements of a notice served under this section; or

(b) in supplying any information in compliance with such a notice, makes any statement which that person knows to be false in a material particular or recklessly makes any statement which is false in a material particular, is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 12: After clause 44, insert the following new clause

“Power of district councils to obtain information

44A.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), a district council may serve on any person a notice requiring that person to supply to the council, within a period or at times specified in the notice and in a form so specified, any information so specified which the council reasonably considers that it needs for the purposes of any function conferred on the council by this Part.

(2) Regulations may restrict the information which may be required under subsection (1) and determine the form in which the information is to be so required.

(3) A person who—

(a) fails without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirements of a notice served under this section; or

(b) in supplying any information in compliance with such a notice, makes any statement which that person knows to be false in a material particular or recklessly makes any statement which is false in a material particular, is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

During the consultation exercise on the Bill, considerable criticism was received from consultees on the content of Part 4, which deals with graffiti and other defacement. Having considered the representations that have been received from the district councils and other stakeholders, I have sought to strengthen the provisions of Part 4 and am, therefore, proposing a number of amendments to give district councils the powers that they need to deal with those problems effectively.

Some of the amendments are relatively minor but are aimed at ensuring that potential loopholes in the law are closed and that the new provisions work cohesively with existing legislation. My officials have engaged with the Environment Committee on all of the proposed amendments to Part 4 of the Bill, and it is my understanding that the Committee is content.

Amendment Nos 3 and 4 relate to clause 26, which enables a district council to issue a fixed penalty notice in lieu of prosecution for relevant graffiti and fly-posting offences. Those relevant offences are defined in clause 26(10) and include an offence under article 33 of the Road Traffic Regulation (Northern Ireland) Order 1997. Article 33 deals with the offence of interference with, or damage to, traffic signs, and clause 26(10) of the Bill originally limited the scope of the offence by using the words:

“which involves only an act of obliteration”.

However, significant interference with, or damage to, traffic signs could also be caused by graffiti and fly-posting actions other than an act of obliteration.

On further consideration, it was felt that the word “obliteration” was overly restrictive, as a lot of graffiti and fly-posting on traffic signs would not completely obliterate the signs. I am, therefore, proposing an amendment to replace the word “obliteration” in the definition of the relevant offence in clause 26(10) with the word “defacement”.

Another relevant offence for the purposes of clause 26 is an offence under article 87(1) of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993, which relates to painting, making marks or displaying advertisements on roads. Article 87(11) of that Order gives the Department for Regional Development the powers to obtain details of the person for whom, or on whose instructions, an advertisement was printed from the person who printed the advertisement.

In order to ensure that district councils have the necessary tools to take enforcement action in respect of an offence under article 87(1) of the 1983 Order, I propose the insertion of the new clause 26(12), which amends article 87(11) to extend the powers to obtain information under that paragraph to an authorised officer of a district council.

Amendment No 5 relates to clause 31, which deals with defacement removal notices and empowers district councils to issue notices to statutory undertakers and other owners of street furniture to require them to remove graffiti and fly-posters from their property. As drafted, clause 31 uses the term “poster or flyer”, but that is inconsistent with the existing legislation that deals with fly-posting, namely article 18 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, which uses the term “placard or poster”. In addition, a flyer is more usually thought of as something that is distributed by hand rather than pasted to a wall or other structure. Therefore, for the sake of consistency and clarity, I have tabled an amendment to clause 31 to replace the word “flyer” with the word “placard”.

My Department’s engagement with district councils highlighted deficiencies in the existing legislation that deals with graffiti and fly-posting and, in particular, article 18 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. That provides district councils with the power to remove or obliterate graffiti that is detrimental to the amenity of any land in its district or any illegally displayed placards or posters. It also enables the council, in certain circumstances, to recover the cost that it incurs in doing so. In response to representations made by district councils, I have tabled amendment No 6, which will create a new article 18 in the 1985 Order, by virtue of a new clause 35A. New article 18 will further strengthen the powers that are available to councils, and it will close the loopholes that render the existing legislation ineffective. In circumstances in which a district council gives notice of its intention to remove or obliterate any graffiti, placard or poster, the period of notice will reduce from 14 days to two days. That will enable councils to act more quickly and prevent unscrupulous businesses from benefiting from two weeks of illegal advertising. New article 18 will also afford protection to those whose private property has been defaced by graffiti and fly-posting and who, in all likelihood, are the victims of crime. It will ensure that they are not responsible for the costs of removal and that that cost is borne, where possible, by the person who committed the act of graffiti or fly-posting or the person whose goods, trade, business or other concerns are publicised by it. Further protection will also be afforded to property owners by allowing for compensation to be claimed by those whose property is damaged by district councils when exercising the power to remove or obliterate graffiti, placards or posters. Compensation will not be payable to those who displayed the graffiti, placards or posters or caused it to be displayed, and any question of disputed compensation will be referred to and determined by the Lands Tribunal.

Amendment Nos 7 and 8 relate to clause 36, which originally made it an offence to sell an aerosol paint container to a person under the age of 16. However, a number of councils were of the opinion that it would be more appropriate to ban the sale of aerosols to those who are under the age of 18 and argued that that would bring the provision into line with the sale of restricted products such as tobacco and butane gas. That view was also shared by the Committee for the Environment. The aim of clause 36 is to reduce the incidence of criminal damage caused by acts of graffiti. Many of those acts are carried out using aerosol spray paint, which is quick and easy to use, can cause considerable damage to property and can be extremely difficult and costly to remove. I am, therefore, keen to ensure that a strong line is taken on the sale of those products, and, having listened to the concerns that were voiced by the councils and the Committee for the Environment, I propose that clause 36 be amended to make it an offence to sell an aerosol paint container to a person under the age of 18 rather than to a person under the age of 16.

Amendments Nos 9 and 10 relate to clause 37. As drafted, clause 37 makes changes to article 84 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 to amend a defence that can be used by someone who is alleged to have committed the offence of displaying an advertisement illegally. The existing defence for such a person is to prove that the advertisement was displayed without his knowledge or consent, which makes it very difficult to secure a conviction. Therefore, the amended defence, as substituted by clause 37, is that the person must prove that the advertisement was displayed without his knowledge or that he took all reasonable steps to prevent the display or to secure its removal after the advertisement was displayed.

The amendment means that, if business owners are to avoid prosecution, they will have to take responsibility for ensuring that their goods, trade, business or other concerns are not illegally advertised.

Article 87 of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 contains a similar defence to that contained in article 84 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 for the offence of displaying an advertisement on a road. In order to make it more difficult for the perpetrator of that offence to escape conviction, I am proposing that clause 37 be amended. Therefore, an amendment similar to the one already being made to the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 is also made to article 87 of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993.

Another issue that came to light during consultation with councils was the need for them to have certain information-gathering powers. Article 20 of the Litter (Northern Ireland) Order 1994 empowers a council to serve a notice on any person requiring him to furnish any information that the council reasonably considers it needs for the purpose of any function conferred on the council by that order. I understand that councils have found that to be particularly useful when gathering evidence to enable them to take a prosecution.

Graffiti and fly-posting are a significant blight on our environment, and I am keen to provide district councils with the necessary powers to tackle the problem effectively and to bring those responsible to justice. Therefore, I have tabled amendment No 11, which proposes the inclusion of a new clause 37A to provide district councils with information-gathering powers in relation to Part 4 of the Bill, similar to those currently available to them in respect of litter. Under the new clause, anyone who fails to comply with a council’s written request for information or who supplies false information will be guilty of an offence and will be liable for a fine of up to £2,500.

The information-gathering power already available to district councils under article 20 of the Litter (Northern Ireland) Order 1994 currently extends to dog fouling, which is at present dealt with under article 4 of that Order. However, concern has been expressed by councils that they will lose power now that article 4 is being repealed and replaced by provisions in Part 5 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill. I assure Members that it is certainly not my intention to weaken existing powers and, therefore, amendment No 12 inserts new clause 44A to provide district councils with information-gathering powers for the purposes of Part 5 of the Bill. As is the case with new clause 37A, anyone who fails to comply with a council’s written request for information or who supplies false information will be guilty of an offence and will be liable for a fine of up to £2,500. Again, I understand that the Committee for the Environment is content with that proposal.

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin 4:30 pm, 21st February 2011

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. With regard to amendment Nos 3 and 4, the Committee recommended that councils should be encouraged to provide sites where small and medium-sized enterprises can place advertising literature for free or for a nominal not-for-profit administration charge. Procedures put in place for using such sites should be straightforward and flexible, allowing for a quick reaction to market conditions, and should also include measures to ensure that those using the sites keep them and the surrounding areas tidy and up to date. The Committee supports those amendments.

The Committee also supports amendment Nos 5 and 6. It was suggested to members that it would be impossible for councils to administer the proposals relating to fly-posting due to the time-consuming and costly nature of removing fly-posters. However, there is a provision for councils to administer a fee to cover those costs, and that is welcome. Despite Committee concerns, the Department acknowledged that, under the Bill, the owners of buildings defaced by fly-posters could not recover the costs from the beneficiaries of fly-posting. The Committee agreed to make a recommendation that councils should be encouraged to provide spaces where small and medium-sized businesses can place advertising material for free or for a small administration charge. Amendment Nos 5 and 6 are intended to allow district councils to deal more effectively with graffiti and fly-posting, which have long been a blight on society, and, therefore, those amendments are most welcome.

Amendment Nos 7 and 8 raise from 16 to 18 the lower age limit outlined in the provision under which it would be an offence to sell aerosol paints to children. The Committee suggested those amendments on the basis of councils pointing out that retailers already cannot sell butane gas or alcohol to anyone below the age of 18 and that to bring in a different age limit for aerosol paints would be confusing for shopkeepers and very hard to enforce. The Committee also felt that, if a student under 18 years of age needed aerosol paints for legitimate use, there would be ways of achieving that through a parent, school or college.

On behalf of the Committee, I am glad to say that the Minister has brought those amendments forward. We all realise the potentially harmful effects of aerosol paints, and the change to a higher age limit is welcome.

On amendment No 9, the Committee recommends that, in order to ensure that councils are able to implement effectively the new powers over fly-posting provided in this Bill, Planning Service should tighten up its control of advertising. The Committee considered this amendment, and amendment No 10, at its meeting on 27 January, and members were content. On behalf of the Committee, therefore, I support amendment Nos 9 and 10.

The Committee also supports amendment Nos 11 and 12, which insert new clauses to give councils improved information-gathering powers. The Bill will transfer a lot of new powers to councils, so any amendments that will give them improved powers are welcome.

On behalf of the Committee, I support the amendments in this group.

Photo of Danny Kinahan Danny Kinahan UUP

I welcome the fact that the Department, the Minister and everyone involved worked together on this Bill. It is a really good example, and that example should be adopted by many more places in this Building.

I welcome the amendments, as they strengthen the provisions. Amendment Nos 3 and 4 allow the councils to work better with the road legislation. Amendment No 5 gives the councils more power over flyers. We were concerned as to whether a flyer stuck to a box would be treated properly. However, I am told that the legal definition of a placard covers a flyer that has been stuck to an electrical box or similar things.

Amendment No 6 is an extremely good, long amendment on the subject of graffiti, placards and posters. It is very welcome. I want to emphasise the word “may” in that amendment; the councils do not have to do it in two days. However, most of us would like to see action taken over graffiti as quickly as possible, especially, as the Minister has said, as people are getting two weeks of free advertising from the illegal use of such methods.

In amendment Nos 7 and 8, we welcome the change in the age limit concerning aerosols from 16 to 18. In amendment Nos 9, 10, 11 and 12, we welcome the extra provisions to enable councils to deal with advertisements linked to road legislation and powers to councils to find out more information so that they can deal with the problem.

My party supports these amendments.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle.

I thank the Minister for dealing with group 2 of the amendments. This is the most significant batch of amendments in this whole section of the Bill. It has the potential to help clean up our neighbourhoods. As we drive round the community, we see how areas, housing, boards and streets have been defaced by people illegally using other people’s property to advertise their wares, events and a whole host of other things.

It is also particularly important that those people who own the property and have had no role whatsoever in this illegal activity are not held responsible, financially or otherwise, for the activities of others. It is important that every effort is made, as it will be through this legislation, to ensure that the people responsible for indulging in fly-posting and graffiti round the place are held financially accountable and held to account in law.

My party supports this group of amendments.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance

I join with colleagues in welcoming the group 2 amendments and, in particular, amendment No 6, which, as has been said, will strengthen council powers to tackle antisocial graffiti and fly-posting by giving councils further powers to require persons connected to the offence to remove it or allow councils to charge for its removal.

I recall one area of my constituency where fly posters go up and down on a daily basis, so I know that the local people will be particularly glad to hear that the Minister has brought forward those powers. As I have said, this is a power that local councils have sought for years. They will welcome it as well.

I also welcome amendment No 10, which would create a sensible provision to better govern the protection of anyone who has had graffiti or fly-posting that is connected to them displayed without their knowledge or consent. At the same time, I welcome amendment Nos 11 and 12, because they propose the introduction of improved information-gathering powers for councils.

Photo of John Dallat John Dallat Social Democratic and Labour Party

I support my colleague Patsy McGlone. We certainly endorse the proposed changes enthusiastically, and we hope that they will fundamentally change the environment in which we live. We also hope that councils throughout the North will equally pay attention to graffiti and to all other forms of fly-posting. I know that we will have to relax restrictions on that a little in the next few weeks, when people peddle their wares on the political scene. I am sure, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you would not rule me out of order if I said that we hope that all those posters will disappear when the election is over.

The idea of providing sites for fly-posting is very important. It is custom and practice in France and other European countries to choose sites that are attractive and convenient so that people who legitimately provide entertainment and so on can have an opportunity to promote it and are not then grouped with those who act irresponsibly.

At Committee Stage, I questioned the definition of the term “aerosol”. I am very much aware that, as time moves on, spray paints are powered by triggers. I do not mean that to sound like an arms reference — perhaps the term “pumps” would have been a better way to put it. We need to be careful that we do not get outfoxed by those who, even at this stage in our peace process, still go around plastering the countryside with the most offensive messages of hatred.

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

The Member made a very good point about aerosols. We need to make sure that all elements are covered properly. It is clear that there is somewhat of a moveable feast in the fact that technology moves on. Obviously, if technology overtakes the legislation, the Department could bring forward regulations to ensure that further developments are covered. Alternatively, we could simply add to the Bill. However, I think that the Bill is a good step forward in dealing with those matters, but we will obviously need to keep an eye on it in the future. We have very good legislation for tackling graffiti and fly-posting and a lot of the things that make people’s lives a daily misery. However, we have to make sure that technological advances will not allow those who have an illegitimate intent to escape in the future. I am sure that the House will come back and address that if necessary.

Photo of John Dallat John Dallat Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank Peter Weir for that timely and very useful intervention. It helped to explain the point that I was making, which is that the legislation must not be allowed to become outdated overnight and therefore be incapable of being implemented. However, the important point, and I think the Committee Chairman said this, is that tackling graffiti and all the kinds of environmental problems that we are talking about is part of an overall plan. That plan is very much built into and is part of education, of how children are taught at home and of how, over all, we appreciate the environment in which we live. The plan is also an important part of how we acknowledge, particularly for tourist areas, that the practices that we are talking about have been detrimental to the development of our tourist industry in the past.

I am sure that the Minister will explain in his winding-up speech the need to differentiate between defacement and obliteration. In my view, there should be no fly-posting of any kind on any traffic sign, irrespective of what it is or whether it is painted on the back or the front of the sign. Perhaps I misunderstood what was said, but anything that distracts a motorist from attention to the road is wrong. It should be an offence to distract drivers in that way.

I am sure that everyone will welcome the legislation. I will conclude by expressing my thanks to the Clerks, who played a very practical role in ensuring that the draft legislation is of the highest quality and is capable of being implemented. I look forward to seeing that.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 4:45 pm, 21st February 2011

I thank the Committee for its support on the issues that were raised. Fly-posting and graffiti are current problems. The Bill could be further enhanced if the consultation exercise on a bids process, in which Minister Attwood is engaged in, were to come to fruition in the House early in the lifetime of the next Assembly. That process would ensure that councils have the financial wherewithal to act very quickly to deal with graffiti and fly-posting, particularly in urban areas.

I am very satisfied with the Bill. I have to admit that I had some concerns and reservations when Mr Dallat said that he will enthusiastically embrace it. That is the first occasion on which Mr Dallat has enthusiastically embraced anything that I have proposed in the House. Nonetheless, I will not allow that to put me off having some further thoughts on the Bill. I commend the amendments to the House.

Question, That amendment No 3 be made, put and agreed to.

Amendment No 4 made: In page 28, line 20, at end insert

“(12) In Article 87(11) of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 at the end add ‘and to an authorised officer of a district council (within the meaning of section 26 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011) acting in connection with an offence under paragraph (1).’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 26, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 27 to 30 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 31 (Defacement removal notices)

Amendment No 5 made: In page 29, line 27, leave out “flyer” and insert “placard”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 31, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 32 to 35 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 6 made: After clause 35, insert the following new clause

“Removal or obliteration of graffiti, placards and posters

35A. For Article 18 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (NI 15) (removal of graffiti and fly posters) substitute—

‘Removal or obliteration of graffiti, placards and posters

18.—(1) Subject to the following provisions of this Article, a district council may remove or obliterate—

(a) any graffiti which, in the opinion of the council, is detrimental to the amenity of any land in its district;

(b) any placard or poster which is displayed in its district and which, in the opinion of the council, is so displayed in contravention of regulations under Article 67 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991.

(2) Where any graffiti, placard or poster to which sub-paragraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (1) applies identifies the person who displayed it or caused it to be displayed, a district council may give that person notice in writing—

(a) that the council is of the opinion mentioned in that sub-paragraph in respect of the graffiti, placard or poster specified in the notice;

(b) requiring that graffiti, placard or poster to be removed or obliterated within the period of 2 days beginning with the date of service of the notice; and

(c) stating the effect of paragraph (3).

(3) Where—

(a) a district council serves a notice on a person under paragraph (2) in relation to any graffiti, placard or poster, and

(b) the person fails to remove or obliterate it within the period mentioned in that paragraph, the council may recover summarily as a civil debt from that person the expenses it may reasonably incur in exercising its power under paragraph (1).

(4) Where—

(a) any graffiti, placard or poster to which paragraph (1)(a) or (b) applies does not identify the person who displayed it or caused it to be displayed, but

(b) the graffiti, placard or poster publicises the goods, services or concerns of an identifiable person, paragraphs (2) and (3) have effect as if the reference in paragraph (2) to the person who displayed the graffiti, placard or poster or caused it to be displayed were a reference to the person whose goods, services or concerns are publicised.

(5) For the purpose of exercising any power under paragraph (1) a person authorised in writing by the council for the purposes of this Article may at any reasonable time enter any land if—

(a) the land is unoccupied, and

(b) it would be impossible to exercise the power without entering the land.

(6) Where any damage is caused to land or chattels in the exercise of any power under paragraph (1), compensation may be recovered from the district council exercising the power by any person suffering the damage (other than the person who displayed the graffiti, placard or poster or caused it to be displayed).

(7) Any question of disputed compensation shall be referred to and determined by the Lands Tribunal.

(8) Nothing in this Article authorises the removal or obliteration of any graffiti, placard or poster displayed—

(a) within a building to which there is no public right of access; or

(b) on land owned or occupied by a body established by or under a statutory provision.

(9) This Article and Article 19 are without prejudice to Article 67 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 (control of advertisements), and to Article 84 of that Order (enforcement of advertisement control), and to any regulations made under that Order by virtue of those Articles.’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 36 (Sale of aerosol paint to children)

Amendment No 7 made: In page 32, line 35, leave out “16” and insert “18”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 8 made: In page 33, line 5, leave out “16” and insert “18”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 36, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 37 (Unlawful display of advertisements)

Amendment No 9 made: In page 33, line 26, leave out “as follows” and insert

“in accordance with subsections (2) and (3)”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 10 made: In page 33, line 33, at end insert

“(3A) Article 87 of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 (NI 15) (control of advertisements, etc.) is amended in accordance with subsections (3B) and (3C).

(3B) In paragraph (9) for ‘that it was displayed without his knowledge or consent’ substitute ‘either of the matters specified in paragraph (9A)’.

(3C) After that paragraph insert—

‘(9A) The matters are that—

(a) the advertisement was displayed without his knowledge; or

(b) he took all reasonable steps to prevent the display or, after the advertisement had been displayed, to secure its removal.’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 37, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 11 made: After clause 37, insert the following new clause

“Supplementary

Power of district councils to obtain information

37A.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), a district council may serve on any person a notice requiring that person to supply to the council, within a period or at times specified in the notice and in a form so specified, any information so specified which the council reasonably considers that it needs for the purposes of any function conferred on the council by this Part.

(2) Regulations may restrict the information which may be required under subsection (1) and determine the form in which the information is to be so required.

(3) A person who—

(a) fails without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirements of a notice served under this section; or

(b) in supplying any information in compliance with such a notice, makes any statement which that person knows to be false in a material particular or recklessly makes any statement which is false in a material particular, is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 38 to 44 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 12 made: After clause 44, insert the following new clause

“Power of district councils to obtain information

44A.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), a district council may serve on any person a notice requiring that person to supply to the council, within a period or at times specified in the notice and in a form so specified, any information so specified which the council reasonably considers that it needs for the purposes of any function conferred on the council by this Part.

(2) Regulations may restrict the information which may be required under subsection (1) and determine the form in which the information is to be so required.

(3) A person who—

(a) fails without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirements of a notice served under this section; or

(b) in supplying any information in compliance with such a notice, makes any statement which that person knows to be false in a material particular or recklessly makes any statement which is false in a material particular, is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 45 to 54 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 55 (Powers of entry: supplementary)

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

We now come to the third group of amendments, which deals with technical and consequential amendments. With amendment No 13, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 15, 16, 17 and 21.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I beg to move amendment No 13: In page 44, line 41, at end insert

“(10) Subsection (9) does not apply so as to prevent an award of damages in respect of an act or omission on the ground that the act or omission was unlawful by virtue of section 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 15: In clause 60, page 50, line 15, at end insert

“ ‘owner’, in relation to any premises consisting of land, means a person (other than a mortgagee not in possession) who, whether in that person’s own right or as agent or trustee for any other person, is entitled to receive the rack rent of the premises or, where the premises are not let at a rack rent, would be so entitled if they were so let;”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 16: In clause 60, page 51, line 7, after “1981 (NI 4)” insert “(except for ‘owner’)”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 17: In clause 65, page 58, leave out lines 4 to 8. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 21: In schedule 3, page 71, line 19, at end insert

“( ) In Article 7(5) for ‘paragraph (1)(b) to (f)’ substitute ‘paragraph (1)(b) to (e)’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Clause 55 provides a general indemnity for authorised officers carrying out their duties under clauses 53 and 54, which concern powers of entry, if done in good faith, against any action, liability, claim or demand. When consulted on the legislative competence of the Assembly in respect of the Bill, the Attorney General indicated that an amendment should be made to clause 55 to ensure legislative competence in respect of that clause. The Attorney General has confirmed that other provisions in the Bill, together with the proposed amendments, are within the legislative competence of the Assembly.

Amendment No 13 will ensure legislative competence on the basis of European Court of Human Rights compliance in respect of clause 55. Clause 60 stipulates the matters that constitute statutory nuisance for the purposes of Part 7 of the Bill. It also provides for the interpretation of various references used throughout Part 7.

The Bill originally contained a broad definition of “owner” that was restricted to clause 65 in respect of the recovery of expenses under clause 64(6) reasonably incurred by a council in abating or preventing the recurrence of a statutory noise. However, at Committee Stage, the Environment Committee was of the opinion that in restricting the broad definition of “owner” to clause 65, my Department had inadvertently weakened councils’ powers to take abatement action in respect of statutory nuisances.

It sought my Department’s agreement to amend the Bill so that the broad definition of “owner” applied to the whole of Part 7. Having considered the matter further, I accepted that restricting the broad definition of “owner” to clause 65 did, in fact, represent a weakening of councils’ existing powers. Therefore, I propose, by way of amendment No 15, to extend the broad definition of “owner” to clause 60 and thereby to the whole of Part 7 of the Bill.

Consequential to that are two further minor amendments. Amendment No 16 ensures that the definition of “owner” in the Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 does not apply to Part 7 of the Bill. Amendment No 17 simply deletes the current definition of “owner” from clause 65. Amendment No 21 is a consequential amendment to schedule 3 that is required as a result of the repeal of article 7(1)(f) and the word “and” immediately preceding it in the Litter (Northern Ireland) Order 1994 by part 2 of schedule 4, namely repeals. Article 7(1)(f), and the word “and” immediately preceding it, are being repealed because the Department is replacing the existing litter control areas provisions in article 10 of the 1994 Order with new litter clearing notices. Those provisions are being inserted as articles 12A to 12C of the 1994 Order by clause 17.

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin

As the name suggests, the amendments in this group, which I support, are technical in nature and are consequential to amendments already made.

I would like to touch on the Committee’s deliberations around clause 60, to which amendment Nos 15 and 16 relate. At the Committee’s meeting of 9 December 2010, members asked departmental officials to consider an amendment in relation to noise from illegal motorsports tracks. The Department replied by saying that improved procedures for dealing with statutory nuisance brought about by Part 7 will enable councils to deal more effectively with noise emitted from land that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance, and that an amendment to the Bill in relation to noise from illegal motorsports tracks was not required because the situation is already adequately covered by the Bill. The Committee was content with that response. However, I must ask that enforcement on that issue be carried out rigorously to ensure that people do not suffer the nuisance of illegal motorsports tracks, which seem to be becoming more commonplace.

Members also asked for clarification of clause 60(1)(l) because they were concerned that it might be used to impede the natural progression of water systems. The Department’s response was that English case law had established that the range of potential recipients of abatement notices under the provision is subject to an important limitation. Where a natural watercourse becomes silted up by natural causes and causes a nuisance by flooding, the landowner is unlikely to be held liable under the provision. By contrast, if a watercourse is created or substantially altered by humankind, the landowner or occupier is responsible for its design, construction and maintenance and may be in default in respect of their inadequacies. Members were content with that response.

When considering clause 65, to which amendment No 17 relates, members asked the Department to consider extending the definition of “owner” in clause 65 to the rest of the Bill, as requested by NILGA and several councils. I welcome the Minister taking on board the Committee’s recommendations because they will expand the definition of “owner” in clause 65 to the whole of Part 7. On behalf of the Committee, I welcome the amendments in this group.

Photo of Danny Kinahan Danny Kinahan UUP

I, too, welcome this group of amendments. I particularly support amendment No 13, which provides councils with indemnity when using powers of entry, but is in keeping with human rights legislation, and amendment Nos 15 and 16, which extend the definition of “owner” to cover the whole of Part 7. I also support amendment Nos 17 and 21, which are more technical.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance

I support the third group of amendments.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Once again, I thank Members for their support. We will perhaps need to take a further look at the issue of illegal car racing tracks in future, certainly in the new Assembly term. It may be a matter that we can look at in the context of planning. A lot of those tracks hold events on up to 13 days of the year, which seems like quite a lot, and that would cause a nuisance particularly to those who live close to them, especially given that they do not come under the same rules and restrictions as legitimate tracks. We should take on board how we might deal with that issue. I urge Members to keep that matter relevant as we move into a new term, and to support the proposed amendments.

Question, That amendment No 13 be made, put and agreed to.

Clause 55, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 56 and 57 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent 5:00 pm, 21st February 2011

We now come to the fourth group of amendments for debate. The amendments relate to how subordinate legislation will be handled. With amendment No 14, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 18, 19, 20 and 22.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I beg to move amendment No 14: In page 47, line 36, at end insert

“and after ‘section’ insert ‘8A(7) or’;

(b) after subsection (3) insert—

‘(4) An order under section 8A(7) shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Assembly.’.”

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 18: In clause 72, page 63, line 1, after “subsections” insert “(2A),”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 19: In clause 72, page 63, line 2, at end insert

“(2A) An order under—

(a) section 4(9);

(b) section 27(5);

(c) section 42(6); or

(d) section 50(6), shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Assembly.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 20: In schedule 3, page 71, line 11, at end insert

“The Pollution Control and Local Government (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (NI 19)

. In Article 86—

(a) in paragraph (1) at the beginning insert ‘Subject to paragraph (1A),’;

(b) after paragraph (1) insert—

‘(1A) An order under Article 29A(9) shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Assembly.’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

No 22: In schedule 3, page 71, line 26, at end insert

“(6) In Article 25

(a) in paragraph (1) at the beginning insert ‘Subject to paragraph (1A),’;

(b) after paragraph (1) insert—

‘(1A) An order under Article 18A(3) shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Assembly.’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Amendment Nos 14, 18, 19, 20 and 22 concern the legislative procedure to be followed in respect of orders prescribing changes in the level of fixed penalties payable with regard to a range of offences specified in the Bill. The Bill originally provided that any future legislation amending fixed penalty amounts for a range of offences should be subject to negative resolution procedure. That is consistent with existing fixed penalty provision in existing legislation. I originally felt that negative resolution procedure was appropriate in this instance on the grounds that the issue is neither sensitive nor controversial and that there is substantial legislative precedence for this approach. However, I note that other Bills in the legislative programme have proposed the use of draft affirmative resolution procedure for the future amendment of fixed penalty amounts. I also recognise that the Committee for the Environment has recommended draft affirmative resolution on the advice of the Examiner of Statutory Rules.

Effectively, the amendments would ensure that any future change to the amount of fixed penalties is subject to draft affirmative procedure. That would provide for greater Assembly control in this area and would ensure consistency with other Assembly legislation. I urge Members to support the amendments.

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. On the advice of the Examiner of Statutory Rules, the Committee recommended that the seven powers in the Bill under which the Department may make orders to alter the amount of a fixed penalty payment specified in the Bill be made subject to draft affirmative procedure. The Committee is, therefore, supportive of all the amendments in group 4, which will ensure that the House has the highest level of scrutiny of any subordinate legislation that follows the relevant clauses.

Photo of Danny Kinahan Danny Kinahan UUP

I, too, welcome the amendments, and I particularly welcome the fact that we would have affirmative resolution on the fixed penalties regarding vehicles, graffiti, dogs and alarms. I look forward to seeing the Bill in place. We support the amendments.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance

I support the amendments in group four, particularly the provision for affirmative resolution. I offer my party’s thanks for the hard work that has gone into making the provisions possible.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I thank Members for their support of the Bill and urge the House to support the group four amendments.

Question, That amendment No 14 be made, put and agreed to.

Clause 58, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 59 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 60 (Statutory nuisances)

Amendment No 15 made: In page 50, line 15, at end insert

“ ‘owner’, in relation to any premises consisting of land, means a person (other than a mortgagee not in possession) who, whether in that person’s own right or as agent or trustee for any other person, is entitled to receive the rack rent of the premises or, where the premises are not let at a rack rent, would be so entitled if they were so let;”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 16 made: In page 51, line 7, after “1981 (NI 4)” insert “(except for ‘owner’)”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 60, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 61 to 64 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 65 (Expenses recoverable from owner to be a charge on premises)

Amendment No 17 made: In page 58, leave out lines 4 to 8. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 65, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 66 to 71 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 72 (Regulations and orders)

Amendment No 18 made: In page 63, line 1, after “subsections” insert “(2A),”. — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 19 made: In page 63, line 2, at end insert

“(2A) An order under—

(a) section 4(9);

(b) section 27(5);

(c) section 42(6); or

(d) section 50(6), shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Assembly.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Clause 72, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 73 to 76 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.

Schedule 3 (Minor and consequential amendments)

Amendment No 20 made: In page 71, line 11, at end insert

“The Pollution Control and Local Government (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (NI 19)

. In Article 86—

(a) in paragraph (1) at the beginning insert “Subject to paragraph (1A),’;

(b) after paragraph (1) insert—

‘(1A) An order under Article 29A(9) shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Assembly.’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 21 made: In page 71, line 19, at end insert

“( ) In Article 7(5) for ‘paragraph (1)(b) to (f)’ substitute ‘paragraph (1)(b) to (e)’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Amendment No 22 made: In page 72, line 26, at end insert

“(6) In Article 25

(a) in paragraph (1) at the beginning insert ‘Subject to paragraph (1A),’;

(b) after paragraph (1) insert—

‘(1A) An order under Article 18A(3) shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Assembly.’.” — [The Minister of the Environment (Mr Poots).]

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Long title agreed to.

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty Independent

That concludes the Consideration Stage of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill. The Bill stands referred to the Speaker.