Clause 73 - Offences under section 71: fixed penalty notices

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 27th 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)

Would it be in order to refer to clauses 73, 74, 75 and 76 together, Mr. Taylor?

Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour/Co-operative, North West Leicestershire

I plan to take all the stand part debates separately.

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

Thank you, Mr. Taylor.

I have a question about subsection (3)(a), which states that

''no proceedings may be instituted for the offence before the end of the period of 14 days starting with the day after that on which the notice is given''.

The responsible person—the home owner or business premises tenant—could be sick for an extended period and the person to whom he delegates responsibility away for a shorter period but longer than the 14 days. In some circumstances, 14 days will be seen as an extremely short period. It is a question of clarification.

I am a little concerned about the definition of authorised officer in subsection (11). Some people may fall into these categories through delegation in a company, particularly in relation to business premises. The provision is very narrowly drawn.

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

May I point out, first, that subsection (3)(a) refers to the giving of a fixed penalty notice? It does not say that, after the expiry of the 14 days, there must be a prosecution. If there is a prosecution, that involves notification to the individual and a response, which might be ''I've been away for a month. Here's my cheque.'' Local authorities are not likely to rush to a prosecution if it is not appropriate. Therefore, I suggest that the Bill sets out a reasonable minimum period; a longer period would be inappropriate in such circumstances.

We seek to leave the designation of an authorised officer to the flexibility of the local authority, but we shall cover the issue in guidance. We would expect the local authority to ensure that an appropriate person undertook the work.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 73 ordered to stand part of the Bill.