Unopposed Bill Committee Minutes of Evidence

Sections 80-99

London Local Authorities Bill [HL]

Tuesday 18 February 2003

80. MR LEWIS: Absolutely not.

81. CHAIRMAN: If they came every day you might.

82. MR LEWIS: Yes, I suppose so. I suspect that the council would be very wary of taking action against the AA under those circumstances.

83. CHAIRMAN: I wanted to clarify that.

84. MR LEWIS: My Lord, Clause 16, urination and defecation in public places, you will see that is being dropped.

85. CHAIRMAN: Why is that? Should I have read this somewhere?

86. MR LEWIS: It is being dropped because first of all the Home Office reported against it. They were not happy with the fact that what we were proposing ways to make the offence a penalty offence under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. We also discovered that at least the main protagonists of the clause, Westminster City Council, have bylaws which can now cover this problem.

87. There are obviously difficulties for the council in enforcing this provision, whether under the bylaws or under this clause, because obviously the main culprits are usually those who have had rather too much to drink on a Friday or a Saturday night, so there will always be difficulties in enforcing the provision anyway for the local authority rather than the police, who have greater powers to deal with the offenders.

88. It is a particularly large problem in the West End of London and a growing problem which Westminster City Council are trying to deal with in a number of ways, including the provision of portable pissoirs which can be found in Soho on a Friday and a Saturday evening.

89. CHAIRMAN: There has been a marked decline in the number of public lavatories over a number of years and in some boroughs they have practically got rid of them altogether, that is unfortunate. Not Westminster.

90. MR BLACKWELL: The portable pissoirs are working, as are the bylaws I am pleased to say.

91. CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

92. MR LEWIS: Clause 17, multiple dog walking, we will deal with that tomorrow.

93. We move on to Clause 18, the sale of spray paints, as it is now intended to be called rather than the supply of spray paints, which is due in part to amendments which we will propose in due course.

94. Your Lordships will see that this Clause has been quite heavily amended and almost of all of the amendments have been made in the light of adverse comments received from the retail sector and comments set out in the report of the Department of Trade and Industry.

95. I can tell you, as I have already, that the DTI have confirmed that they are content with the amendments in the Filled­Up Bill. I hope it is not necessary for me to explain to the Committee the blight which has been caused by the graffiti throughout all areas of London. It is interesting to the note that this particular provision was called for initially by outer London Boroughs, particularly Richmond and also Barnet.

96. It goes without saying that the problem is raised in all of the London boroughs in practically every area. London Borough councils already have their own special powers to deal with the removal of graffiti, and I will come on to those when we describe the next clause.

97. It is increasingly obvious the problem remains enormous and the boroughs are keen to increase their powers to try to prevent the spread of graffiti.

98. The Clause as amended will make it an offence to sell aerosol paint to any person under 18 years. The offence attracts a fine of level three on the standard scale, that is £1,000. It would not, of course, be the first offence of selling goods of certain descriptions to minors.

99. In the bundle of documents your Lordships will hopefully have this Report, it is loose, clipped to the back I think, it is the Report of the London Assembly Graffiti Investigative Committee on Graffiti, which was made in May last year. The Report contains evidence from a number of parties, including London Borough councils, Railtrack and other train operators, and quite interestingly from some graffiti artist as well.

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