Clause 20 - Extent, commencement and short title

Scrap Metal Dealers bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 12th September 2012.

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

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

I do not want to detain the Committee long, but I want to ask a question of the Minister, rather than the promoter of the Bill. Clause 20(1) extends the Bill to England and Wales—we recognise that this a legislative matter for England and Wales—but  I am interested in what discussions the Home Office is having with the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It strikes me that there is a potential hole if similar legislation on scrap metal dealing sites is not being considered in Scotland and Northern Ireland. A collector’s licence could be issued in Northumberland, but the actual disposal could take place in Tayside, Glasgow or Edinburgh. A collectors licence could be issued on the island of Anglesey, but materials could be transported to Belfast. The elements of the Bill in, say, clauses 3, 4 and 2 do not apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland. I am interested in what discussions the Minister is having. Can he update the Committee on what progress is being made in Scotland and Northern Ireland with similar legislation, because there is a massive hole in the potential to tighten up this sector?

Secondly, while the Minister is considering that, will he also give some consideration to clause 20(2), which is about the date that the Secretary of State appoints for bringing the provisions into effect. I note from the notes on the clauses that that date is anticipated to be six months after Royal Assent. I would like an indication of when he expects that to be. In the event of the Bill receiving Royal Assent, what advice and guidance does he intend to issue to scrap metal dealers and others interested in this, and when?

Photo of Graham Jones Graham Jones Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons)

On Report, perhaps the Minister will consider whether, as part of the licence arrangement, particularly for those disposing of metal on the Scottish border, for example, there should be an indication by the licensee of the disposal areas if they are outside the Bill’s remit of England and Wales.

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

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to the clause. Both contributors to this brief discussion have raised important points in which the Committee will be interested, so it is good that I have a chance to address them. As the right hon. Member for Delyn said, the clause outlines the geographical extent of the Bill, and it applies only to England and Wales. This reflects the devolved nature of the policy area and mirrors the geographical extent of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, which the Bill seeks to replace, so this is not just a post-devolution settlement arrangement. Scotland regulates its scrap metal industry through the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, and that regime differs from the existing and proposed regulation in England and Wales. We understand that the Scottish Government are considering whether any legislative changes are required, and we are in discussion with them about how they may wish to proceed to regulate the industry as effectively as possible. Metal recyclers in Northern Ireland are regulated through environmental regulation, namely the Waste Management Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003. It has recently been announced that metal theft is a growing concern for the Northern Ireland Assembly, but we do not know what legislative measures, if any, it seeks to take. The Home Office will continue to provide information to the Administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland on the progress being made in England and Wales, and seek to inform their debate so that we can have the most effective regime possible, but it is ultimately up to them to decide whether legislative changes are required.

As the right hon. Gentleman said, this clause, in addition to clause 17, will come into force on Royal Assent, and the Bill’s other provisions will be brought into force by means of commencement orders made by the Secretary of State through powers in the clause. It is anticipated that a period of at least six months will be required between Royal Assent and commencement to allow licensing authorities to put in place suitable infrastructure to meet the new demands. The Home Office will work with local authorities and the scrap metal industry to ensure the smooth and successful implementation of the new regime.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 20 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.