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Scrap metal reform bill passes Lords committee

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.

Readers' comments (2)

  • All good in my view.

    Only question mark remains about how much the councils will charge. I wonder how much they think they can get away with....!

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  • Scrap metal needs to become a specialist waste so only those who have a respectable licences yard can trade in the scrap metal Buisness
    There should be no such thing as a itinerant trader in scrap metal.
    There's to much hazards waste that goes with the job and the fact that if a normal house hold can dispose of there scrap them selves they would be getting a fair price from a licences Buisness Whitch could help the economy.
    Scrap metal yards should be responsible for what they buy.
    You can tell what is rusty old scrap metal and what is to new or to good to be scraped.
    There should be a system where if a yard is found with stolen items that has been scraped they should receive a strick and on the third strick your out of Buisness.
    For me it is really that easy.
    Licence need to be strengthened so that not any Tom,dick or Harry can start a Buisness and trade in the game if that means paying more for licence then so be it.

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