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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing the amendment that deals with the penalty. This was the last point on which I expected the Government to move, particularly as the Minister at the previous stage made some perfectly reasonable points about the Home Office needing to see how this knocked on to other offences. I am delighted to see that the Government have acted.

On obliteration, I take the point about damage to the fabric of equipment, but legislation that allows an offender to obliterate a poster by placing another one on top of it—that is what obliteration means—does not seem to me to be a proper solution. If one allowed 48 hours for removal or obliteration, quite often the event being advertised will have taken place and the poster will have done its job. However, I shall not press those two issues. Enforcement in relation to fly-posting and graffiti needs to be looked at overall. Clearly there are still problems concerned with that.

I welcome Amendment No. 92. It is good to leave money with local authorities for them to spend. When previously we debated this matter I made a point about ring-fencing. I suppose that applies here as well. I hope that there will be enough money for that not to be an issue. I hope that the new penalties will mean that the level of fly-posting will diminish. We shall see.

One point that applies also to Clause 51(3) concerns the language used. That subsection states:

The word "its" appears uncomfortable there. I would have expected the subsection to read "of it" or possibly "its functions", which would be easier. I do not expect a response to this point unless anyone on the Front Bench feels moved to provide one. I can see the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Temple Guiting, shifting about. I am sure he would express the matter much more elegantly than the rest of us. Such matters can be tidied up at the final stage. If parliamentary counsel and the

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powers that carry out that kind of tidying up and cross-referencing feel that that is an inelegant way of expressing the point, perhaps they would consider the provisions in Clauses 48 and 51(3). I thank the Government for moving on these issues.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 49 [Penalty notices for graffiti and fly-posting]:

[Amendment No. 93 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 94 not moved.]

Clause 56 [Guidance]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 95:

    Page 45, line 29, at end insert "and may not exercise any of the powers conferred by section 54 or 55 unless and until such guidance is issued to it or it is otherwise authorised"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Bill provides for local authorities to provide graffiti removal notices and, if necessary, in due course to set about removing the graffiti themselves, subject to notice and so on. We know that a great deal of negotiating is taking place between the Government and those who have street furniture that is all too often subject to graffiti. That is street furniture that contains sophisticated electronic equipment such as televisions, telephones, broadband and so on. The subject needs delicate handling. I commend the work of the Government and the industry to try to find a reasonable solution.

The Minister has written to me on the subject and has assured me that the general powers to use graffiti removal notices will not be applied initially except in those areas where pilot schemes are to take place. I am very grateful for that reassurance. It does much to relieve my concern.

However, I am slightly concerned about the final wording of the Minister's letter. He said that,

    "these clauses will only come into force in 12 named local authority areas".

That is fine. He continued:

    "The 12 pilots will operate according to the guidance, which will be developed in advance . . . in partnership with interested parties. At the end of the pilot period, we will use the experience of the pilot local authorities to produce a Regulatory Impact Assessment".

But he then states:

    "This will inform decisions about commencement in the remaining authorities".

Surely, that will inform decisions about the need for amendments to the pilot schemes as, presumably, the pilot schemes will not be identical. So the wording should be wider.

Possibly, we could have tackled the matter outside the Chamber, but it would be as well to have it clarified on the Floor of the House, so that everyone knows exactly what we are talking about. That particular wording does not appear to indicate that the schemes might be modified in the light of experience, whereas I am positive in my own mind—and because I know the noble Lord well enough—that, if necessary, the pilot schemes will be adjusted before they become a universally applied scheme. I beg to move.

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6.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I can give the noble Lord the assurance he seeks. For the record, we shall commence these sections of the Act in 12 pilot authorities only, and we will try out the draft guidance on them. At the end of that period we will use the experience of the pilot sites to produce a regulatory impact assessment. That will do two things. It will inform decisions about amendments to future guidance, and—as I said in my letter—any subsequent commencement for all local authorities. If things need to be changed substantially, then, obviously, the commencement would be put back a little. So, certainly we will learn the lessons from those pilots, on adjusting the final version of the guidance as well as on commencement to other authorities.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister for that reply. It provides me with the reassurance that I needed. More importantly, it will be reassuring to those businesses involved in this particular field. They were fairly happy with the process, but just needed that final bit of reassurance. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 96:

    After Clause 58, insert the following new clause—

In section 224(3) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c. 8) (offence of displaying advertisement in contravention of regulations) for "level 3", in both places where it occurs, substitute "level 4"."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 59 [Sale of aerosol paint to children]:

[Amendment No. 97 not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 98:

    Page 47, line 4, leave out "eighteen" and insert "sixteen"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 98 reiterates a series of arguments that I made at the beginning of the afternoon on whether 18—in this instance—is the age at which sense arrives and therefore is the age at which one is allowed to buy an aerosol spray can of paint. I do not intend to reiterate the arguments I used at the beginning of the afternoon because that should be superfluous.

The fact is that at the age of 16 one can do so many things which are characteristic of an adult. The Bill proposes that one must be 18 to purchase an aerosol spray can of paint and it makes it an offence for a retailer to sell one to anyone below that age. I cannot accept that that is reasonable. Therefore, I have tabled the amendment to change that age to 16, at which point all my earlier arguments apply. I beg to move.

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Lord Whitty: My Lords, as noble Lords will recall, we had a debate on this issue in Committee. The Government indicated that they were prepared to look at it because clearly there is a crossover between the age at which this proposed prohibition would have operated and of other entitlements at 15, 16, 17 and 18, which are not entirely congruent with that.

We remain convinced of the need to take the tools of the criminal damage trade out of the hands of the taggers. The precise age at which that operates is obviously a matter for debate, but it is quite clear that much of it is in the age group that we are talking about. All the research and anecdotal evidence indicates that it is around that age. However, I am reasonably convinced that the age of 18 is pitching the matter a little high, particularly as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, indicated during the course of that debate that one can drive a car at 17 but one would not be able to buy the can of spray to touch up the car, which somehow one had scraped, were one's driving to be roughly equivalent to that of most drivers at the age of 17.

I take that argument. I think there is a good argument for moving away from 18. In the circumstances, I shall not argue between 17 and 16 and I would be happy to accept the noble Lord's amendment.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, what else is there to say except that I am extremely grateful to the Minister for his reply? That is very kind of him. Many people, especially young people, will feel quite pleased about it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 99 to 101 not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 102:

    Page 47, line 14, leave out "eighteen" and insert "sixteen"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 103 not moved.]

Clause 62 [Public Assemblies]:

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