Industry leaders have welcomed the passage of the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill through the House of Lords committee stage.
The Government-supported private member’s bill, introduced by Tory MP Richard Ottaway last year, would introduce a council-run compulsory licensing regime for all scrap metal traders.
Ian Hetherington, director general of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), said: “It is imperative that the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill is passed as quickly as possible to improve regulation in the metals recycling industry and fight metal theft. The BMRA welcomes the revised bill’s progress because loopholes and exemptions in the LASPO [Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders] Act [cash ban legislation] expose legitimate businesses to a drop in trade, job losses and closures whilst allowing criminal activity to continue.
“As the legislation currently stands, some metal traders – such as motor vehicle salvage operators – are exempt from the changes brought in under the LASPO Act, which leaves an unfair playing field. This poses a serious challenge to small metal recyclers who rely on the trade of householders and businesses that sell scrap items every day and will undoubtedly take their business to collectors who continue to pay cash. The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill hopes to eradicate these issues by closing off the loopholes and putting a robust regulatory framework in place to back it up.”
But Peers voted down a Government amendment to insert a sunset clause in to the bill which would have seen the legislation lapse after 5 years unless updated. The amendment was promised by ministers to backbench rebels who had threatened to talk out the bill in the Commons in November.
Ottaway said: “The sunset clause was an undertaking given in good faith in the House of Commons by myself and the Government minister Jeremy Browne.
“To see it voted down is disappointing. Nonetheless I look forward to the Bill completing its passage through the Lords in the near future.”
Main points of the bill:
- Require all scrap dealers to hold and display a licence.
- Empower councils to refuse, vary and revoke scrap metal dealers’ licences and charge a fee to cover the costs of the scheme.
- Force metal sellers to produce verifiable identification which is recorded and kept for two years by the dealer.
- Set up a national, public register of scrap metal dealers run by the Environment Agency.
- Empower police and councils to close unlicensed premises. Dealers would face unlimited fines for trading in cash, being unlicensed or failing to record deals.
- Cash ban to include itinerant collectors.