Clause 7 - Register of licences

Scrap Metal Dealers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 11th September 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jeremy Browne Jeremy Browne The Minister of State, Home Department 6:00 pm, 11th September 2012

I beg to move amendment 25, in clause 7, page 4, line 13, leave out paragraph (c) and insert—

‘() any trading name of the licensee,’.

Photo of Joe Benton Joe Benton Labour, Bootle

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment26, in clause 8, page 4, line 31, leave out from ‘business’ to first ‘the’ in line 33 and insert ‘under a trading name,’.

Amendment 27, in clause 8, page 4, line 34, leave out ‘the trading’ and insert ‘that’.

Amendment49, in clause 19, page 11, line 29, at end insert—

‘( ) “Trading name” means a name, other than that stated in the licence under section 2(4)(a) or (6)(a), under which a licensee carries on business as a scrap metal dealer.’.

Amendment52, in schedule 1, page 13, line 3, leave out paragraph (d) and insert—

( ) any proposed trading name,’.

Photo of Jeremy Browne Jeremy Browne The Minister of State, Home Department

Amendments 25, 26, 27, 49 and 52 are all drafting improvements to the Bill, clarifying the use of the wording in relation to the name of the business that applies for and has raised a scrap dealer’s licence. Schedule 1(3) requires that the name of the business is supplied to the local authority when applying for a licence. In addition, clause 7 requires that the business name is recorded on the national register, and clause 8 requires that any changes to the business name are notified to the licensing authority. In each of those three places, the wording of the requirement is slightly ambiguous—something that the amendments seek to clarify. The term “trading name” is defined in amendment 49, which is to be used for the purposes of the Act, as the name

“under which a licensee carries on business as a scrap metal dealer.”

To put that in shorter terms, we seek to harmonise the terminology throughout the Bill, so that it is clearer for the people who wish to apply rigour in the future.

Amendment 25 agreed to.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I beg to move amendment 8, in clause 7, page 4, line 18, at end add ‘and available online.’.

This may be a simple matter of a yes. If this information is available online, the amendment is superfluous. Clause 7(1) states:

The Environment Agency must maintain a register of scrap metal licences.”

Subsection (3) states:

“The register is to be open for inspection to the public.”

That is a minimal requirement. It could simply mean that a register was available at the Environment Agency’s head office in London if I came to London to ask for it.

With regard to detailed public registry information, I went on the Environment Agency’s website today and drew off a number of examples of mini-skip hire licences in my constituency. If that can be done, is it a requirement here? If the Minister can say yes, I will now sit down. If he says, “No, they can’t,” I will return to the debate in due course.

Photo of Jeremy Browne Jeremy Browne The Minister of State, Home Department

I will give a slightly expanded rather than a three-letter answer. The answer is yes, but let me give a slightly longer version. Subsection (3) states:

“The register is to be open for inspection to the public.”

When I was preparing for the Committee, I asked whether the provision would be satisfied if the register was available for half an hour at the office in London on the second Tuesday of every month, with 14 days’ notice. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman was making a rather good point in amendment 8, and we should  concede it to him. Then I was told that it will be available online, but we do not necessarily want to specify that.

I suppose that is a reasonable position for the Government to adopt, because as soon as we start specifying in what forms the information will be available, we could make all kinds of arguments about other arrangements. For example, people who do not have access to computers might ask why there is not also an amendment to cater for their provision. We might have people who do not speak English asking why there is no provision to cater for them, and this would become a sprawling clause. The wording,

“The register is to be open for inspection to the public” conveys the sentiment without necessarily having to specify precisely in what form it will be available to every member of the public who may wish to look at it.

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the form in which it is envisaged that the register will be available to the public for most people to look at is precisely that envisaged by him in amendment 8, which is online. I am not going to die in a ditch over this—it will happen anyway—but he may feel that, because that is the intention, his amendment is no longer required.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

The purpose of my amendment was to tease out what the phrase,

“The register is to be open for inspection to the public” actually meant. As the Minister has indicated, it could mean that the register is available on the second Thursday of the month in London, on request, with 200 days’ notice. There are all sorts of ways around that, and there is no stipulation in the legislative requirement to the Environment Agency to make the register of scrap metal licences open to the public. However, I hear what he says. For my own benefit, I will repeat that he said that he anticipated it being online. With that assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.