Clause 7 - Power to require name and address

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 18th January 2005.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

On reflection, I may have received a parking fine. I do not wish to paint myself whiter than white or disappoint the Minister.

It is nice that we have at least a modicum of agreement, and the Minister accepted that the failure to pay fixed penalty notices to date, without them being increased, concerns the Government. Enforcement is also of some concern to them. Subsection (1) provides an authorised officer of a local authority with the power to require the name and address of an offender if the officer proposes to give him a penalty notice. Subsection (2) makes it an offence to fail to provide the information asked for or to give inaccurate information. It would help to know what level 3 is on the standard scale. Will the scales for clauses 6 and 7 have to be determined by statutory instrument? When does he imagine introducing such an instrument for clause 7, or is he not minded to amend the scales at this time?

For the power to be meaningful, the Minister must prove that it is not discretionary and enforcement will be put in place. Is he convinced that the provision is as strong as it should be, or does he think that it is unnecessarily weak? We would argue that it does not go as far as the Government intend to make clauses 6 and 7 true enforcement procedures; nor does it ensure that fixed penalty notices are not only issued, but paid. If effective, what impact does he think enforcement will have on the total number of receipts? 

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The hon. Lady asked about the rate at which level 3 is set. It is £1,000. It is not my responsibility to set the levels, and the point of specific levels is to achieve proportionality between different offences, whether the lead Department for those offences is the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, DEFRA, the Department for Transport or the Home Office. Proportionality is to be encouraged because it is good for the reputation of the public service and legislation in general.

It is surely right that an authorised officer has the power to demand the name and address of any person to whom they propose to issue a penalty notice. It is surely a basic requirement to ask people to respect the law and those authorised by the law to undertake its enforcement. I hope that the Committee will support the clause unanimously.

Photo of Mr Matthew Green Mr Matthew Green Shadow Minister, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Local Government & the Regions, Young People, Non-Departmental & Cross-Departmental Responsibilities

I am sure that the Minister will agree that in relation to penalties issued under clause 3, that is unlikely to be an issue because the very fact that someone is trying to sell their car on the road means that there must be a way of identifying who is trying to sell it, or they would not have any success selling it.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

There are circumstances in which an individual would be associated with a number of vehicles—we are talking about more than one vehicle here. If someone is doing something in the street in relation to a vehicle, it could be important for them to be required to say who they are, for assembling information that may be necessary for either the follow-up to the fixed penalty notice, if it has been addressed appropriately, or any prosecution that might be required if the fixed penalty notice has not been paid. That seems to be common sense, although I agree with the hon. Gentleman that where we are trying to protect activities for a business, it is difficult to understand how there could be the slightest problem.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.