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Lord Bach: My Lords, from the opposition Front Bench I thank the noble Lord for the impressive way in which he moved the amendment, and an impressive amendment it is too. He could not have put the case
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Baroness Northover: My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lord Sharkey for putting his case, and indeed I have deep sympathy for it. The amendment appears to extend the provisions contained in the Protection of Freedoms Bill so that they are also available to those who are no longer alive. The provisions in that Bill allow a person to apply to have his historic convictions for consensual gay sex with over-16 year-olds deleted from official records, the effect of which is that those convictions will no longer affect that person's life or career. This was a commitment made in our programme for government. However, the objective is not to rewrite history. The provision in the Protection of Freedoms Bill does not state that the person was wrongfully convicted, nor does it pardon them. It is just that they can now be treated for all purposes in law as someone who was not convicted of those offences.
The position in relation to those who have been convicted of this type of offence and have since died is different. I understand the strength of feeling about such convictions, and the cruelty of the laws under which they were imposed, and I know that this is particularly true in relation to the conviction of Dr Alan Turing. As Gordon Brown said in 2009, while we cannot put the clock back, we recognise that his treatment was utterly unfair and we are all deeply sorry for what happened to him. He deserved so much better. That said, I do not believe that the provisions for disregarding convictions, which are concerned with the practical consequences of conviction, are an appropriate means of putting right the wrongs done to people who are no longer alive to suffer those consequences. As my noble friend himself points out, the numbers involved are potentially very large. I understand his aim, but I am afraid that we cannot agree to his amendment. I realise that he will be disappointed, but I am afraid that I must invite him to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Sharkey: I must say that I am extremely disappointed by that response. I would also point out to my noble friend that I was not calling for a pardon, and that I know the difference between a pardon and a disregard. Nor was I asking for the clock to be put back, as perhaps seemed to be the case.
This was, above all, a very simple opportunity to put right a historic wrong. It also seems to me that the notion that there is a large number involved, and that it therefore makes this difficult, sits oddly with the fact that the impact assessment for the Protection of Freedoms Bill showed precisely no cost in relation to the 16,000 who are still alive. It is hard to see how you could multiply that by any figure and get a significant cost at all.
I will end by saying that I feel truly disappointed by the response. It seems unnecessarily mean-spirited, and although I shall withdraw the amendment now, this is something that I shall pursue, and look for support in pursuing, at Third Reading.
In section 5 (other offences relating to scrap metal) after subsection (2) insert-
(a) the value of the scrap metal in question;
(b) the provenance of the scrap metal in question;
(c) the compliance of the scrap metal dealer with the provisions of sections (1) to (3) of this Act generally; and
(d) any other factors which the court deems to be relevant.""
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, this has been quite a long journey. I first asked an Oral Question on 3 October last year, arguing the case for cashless transactions and the necessity of amending the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964. On 10 November, in a Remembrance Day debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Selkirk, a number of noble Lords, including me, spoke about the despicable theft of war memorials for their scrap metal value.
The Bill we are debating tonight received a Second Reading in your Lordships' House on 21 November, and I gave notice of my intention then to table the amendment which appears today on the Marshalled List. I drew attention to ACPO's estimate that the national cost of metal theft was £770 million. I also referred to the 16,000 hours of delays suffered by rail passengers over the past three years caused by the theft of signalling cable, and to other examples of metal theft such as lead from church roofs, manhole covers, telephone wire and works of art.
Since then the scale of the problem has continued to grow, and every week brings fresh accounts of new theft. Last week, for example, my own local newspaper, the Worcester News, reported that 350 metres of BT underground copper cable had been stolen, which cut off telephone and broadband service in one of the major districts of the city. Numerous heritage railways have written to me to say that scores of metal items such as rails, lamps and even a fork-lift truck have been stolen for their scrap value.
I have another press report dated 1 March saying that seven churches are being targeted and robbed every night for the lead on their roofs; and in a new twist Network Rail reports that, in recent signalling cable thefts on the Cotswold line between Oxford and Worcester, the theft of a 650-volt distribution cable had been concealed by the insertion of a short length of domestic cable in its place-an incredibly dangerous manoeuvre. On it goes.
To his credit, the Minister has indicated that he is determined to do something about it, as did his predecessor, the noble Baroness, Lady Browning. I am particularly grateful to her, and to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, for putting their names to Amendment 156D, and for their stamina in staying here at this late hour tonight.
The Minister may be aware that I immediately issued a statement warmly welcoming that announcement. It took a long time for the government amendments to appear, but last week they finally did, and we are debating them now as Amendments 157F, 157G and 157J.
What the Government are proposing is fine except for one baffling respect. For reasons that have not been properly explained so far, they are proposing an exemption for itinerant sellers. As I understand it, that will mean that the sale of metal to an itinerant collector will not have to be recorded, whether it is a householder getting rid of some unwanted domestic appliance or a metal thief using the itinerant as a way of getting into the chain. By proposing that exemption, the Government are opening up a serious loophole that could undermine much of the benefit that their move towards cashless transactions will create.
While there may not be too many of those registered at the moment, surely there is a risk that there will be many more once word went round that this was a way to avoid the cashless requirement of being a scrap-metal dealer.
The Minister will be aware that the itinerant seller exemption has caused alarm among many in the industry. For example, SITA, to which both the Minister and I have paid visits in recent months to discuss this legislation, said this in its latest briefing:
"There is no reason why a cashless system cannot be implemented by bona fide itinerant collectors, along with the rest of the scrap metal industry ... Moreover, the requirement for a cashless transaction between the itinerant collector and a scrap metal merchant will in any event necessitate the former to maintain a bank account with provision for electronic or cheque payment. It is therefore illogical to exempt the initial transaction between the seller and the itinerant collector, but to (rightly) mandate a cashless transaction for the on-sale of the material to a scrap metal dealer. Traceability over the entire chain, from seller to intermediary to dealer, will be broken along with proof of provenance of the metal presented for sale".
That is a pretty convincing argument and is why I have tabled my own Amendment 157H to the government amendment to delete the exemption. I shall listen very carefully to the Minister's response to these points before deciding whether to press that amendment. In particular, I hope that I will hear him say that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act will be replaced by an entirely fresh piece of legislation to be introduced in the new Session. That could deal with all the issues relating not just to itinerant sellers but to the registration and licensing of the trade generally. Meanwhile, it would be churlish of me not to welcome the Government's acceptance of the argument that I first put forward
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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): It might be useful if I intervene at this stage. In doing so, I want to make it quite clear that I hope other noble Lords will intervene after me despite the fact that this is Report. This is purely because I have amendments in this group and it might speed up the process by which we debate these matters.
I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, for all that he has done. We have listened to him and, as he knows, we have responded as much as we can in due course. I also want to make it quite clear that we in the Government recognise what a serious problem it is. I cannot list in detail the individual Peers, Members of the Commons and others who have been to see me. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London was the first to come and see me to highlight the problem relating to the churches. Obviously, this problem goes beyond the churches and beyond art theft; we all know about that Barbara Hepworth that was stolen recently. This affects communities and businesses throughout the country. We have seen damage to our infrastructure, to the railways, to communications and so on again and again and that damage is very great indeed. The noble Lord quite rightly cited an estimate of some £700 million. That is probably the effect on business and the community as a whole. What is depressing is how little money it actually brings in to the thieves themselves. The Barbara Hepworth that I mentioned, insured for £500,000 or £1 million or whatever, will have gone to some scrap-metal yard and been ground down and sold off for literally a matter of a few pounds. The real problem arises in the scrap-metal yards in that whoever was the first person to receive that-the first fence as it were-must have known that property was as hot as you can get because you do not often get Barbara Hepworths being brought in; they are not something you happen to find on the side of the road. So that is the problem and that is why the Government believe they should take urgent action.
That action can be taken in a number of different ways. The first and most important one is enforcement. The Government have made it quite clear that we want to address enforcement. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced late last year that there was an extra £5 million of funding for a new dedicated metal theft task force. The British Transport Police has taken the lead and is doing a great deal of work on this. In certain parts of the country we have seen great improvements in enforcement. I recently visited the north-east and saw what it was doing in terms of Operation Tornado, improving enforcement and increasing the number of arrests and cash seizures from the scrap-metal industry. That is happening throughout the country. Enforcement is one strand of what we must do and there are other things that we can do in terms of design and hardening objects so that they are less easily stealable or more traceable. However, we have concluded that legislation of one form or another is the only sustainable long-term
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I want to keep my remarks brief, but will explain that the new amendments create a new criminal offence to prohibit cash payments to purchase scrap metals. We believe that at the moment it is just too easy for someone having stolen something to convert that something into cash, no questions asked. They also significantly increase the fines that are available for the majority of the offences under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, which regulates the scrap-metal-dealing industry. That is important. It only goes some way because, as I have said on a number of occasions, we believe that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act is not now fit for purpose but that it is worth at least upgrading the offences under that Act. But one should always remember that under the old Theft Act 1968 there is an offence of seven years for theft and more importantly, as I said earlier, under handling we have some 14 years available.
Lord Campbell-Savours: The story in the Commons is that the Government are saying that that subsequent legislation will be brought in under the Private Member's Bill procedure in the House of Commons. Is that true?
Lord Henley: My Lords, I do not believe all stories that I hear, either in this House or in another place. I was going to come on to what we will do with scrap- metal dealers in due course. To put it briefly, we have found this opportunity under this legislation to make a number of changes, but we cannot completely redo the Scrap Metal Dealers Act under this legislation because of the scope of the Bill. We will certainly look at all legislative opportunities in the new Session to see how we can revise the Scrap Metal Dealers Act. All that I and other colleagues have said is that we believe that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act is no longer fit for purpose; it is past its sell-by date. How we revise that legislation, we will have to address in the new Session.
I have spoken of the first two changes that we are bringing in as a result of the Bill: making cash payments illegal and increasing fines under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act. Thirdly, we want in this Bill to revise the police entry powers to ensure compliance with the new offence. That, again, is something that will make the whole enforcement procedure easier for the police.
Lord Roberts of Conwy: Can the Minister confirm that even under his amendment itinerants can still have scrapyards of their own? Can they still have cash transactions and still not be inspected except under warrant?
Lord Henley: I shall come on to the question of itinerants in due course. It is something addressed by Amendment 157H in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner. I will deal with it in some detail because it is important, as there has been a degree of misunderstanding about that point.
We are bringing forward these three changes under the Bill, and they are just a first step in taking forward a coherent package of measures to tackle all stages of the illegal trading of stolen scrap metal. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, I can give an assurance-although I cannot give a timescale for this-that we shall bring forward further measures in due course. We believe that going cashless, which is the crucial part of this amendment, will remove the "no questions asked" culture that allows low-risk criminal enterprise for metal thieves and unscrupulous dealers. That is something that we want to deal with.
I turn to Amendment 157H, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, as an amendment to government Amendment 157G. It removes the exemption for itinerant collectors-and I make it clear that it is purely itinerant collectors whom we are dealing with-who have an order in place under Section 3(1) amending the record requirements that apply to them. Let me make clear that this is not a blanket exemption. Only itinerant collectors who are subject to an order under Section 3(1) of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964-an Act that I described as being past its sell-by date, but it is still what we have-coming from their local authority and approved by the local chief officer of police will be exempted. This will be a modest number of individuals who will be known to both the police and their local authority. They will also be bound by environmental regulations with the need to have a waste carrier's licence under the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011.
Most importantly, no itinerant collector will receive cash from the scrap-metal industry on which they are reliant for selling scrap to. Travelling around the streets picking up scrap, they will, when they take it on to the scrap yard, have to have that payment made not in cash but by some other means. Their transactions will be traceable for the first time, with the scrap-metal industry recording details of the transaction and the payment method and to whom that payment is made.
I hope that that assurance will be sufficient to allow the noble Lord to understand that I do not think his amendment is necessary. It might be that we will have to come back to this at Third Reading, but I hope that on this occasion he will accept that we have got it more or less right and that some of the reporting of the exemption for the so-called itinerants is not exactly what he thought it was.
We have all had receipts from people for getting things like that, probably without even a piece of carbon paper between the two. Why is it necessary to give such people an exemption when the only condition I see here is that they get a scrappy piece of paper as a receipt? It seems to be left wide open to shove things in a container and send them off to China without any paperwork at all.
Lord Henley: My Lords, first, they are not going to be shoving it into a container. This is, as it were, the rag and bone man going around collecting metal in the street. If he wants to get money for it, he is going to have to take it to a scrap yard. He is not going to get money for it by any other means. At that point, the provisions we are debating come into effect. If the noble Lord feels that we are creating an exemption that will create a loophole and drive a coach and horses through what we are doing, just by this small means of exempting the itinerants going around, he has probably got it wrong. He obviously does not accept what I have to say, but I think that he has misunderstood where we are coming from.
Baroness Browning: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for the explanation that he has given to the whole House, particularly in respect of the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, about itinerant collectors. However, I was pleased to add my name to Amendment 156D because, as my noble friend will be aware, the overall increase in metal theft is very clearly parallel to the rising cost of metals around the world. It is a world market, and the theft of the more valuable metals, such as copper, has particularly increased as the world price has gone up.
However, I remind my noble friend-not least in the context of the welcome news that we have in the government amendments tonight and the proposal completely to reform and amend the existing scrap metal Act-that it is very clear from the evidence from ACPO and others that scrap-metal theft is part of organised crime in this country. It is very easy to think that these are just opportunistic thefts, when people happen to see something that they might take on a dark night, and that sort of thing, but that is far from the case. Given that it is part of organised crime, I hope that my noble friend, in looking to get to grips with the reform needed in this area, will bear in mind the fact that very often it is the criminals who organise the people who, in practice, carry out the theft who make the most money. They orchestrate others: sometimes people who, I am quite sure, are fully aware that they are carrying out a criminal act but who themselves are not necessarily the beneficiaries of the full amount of the value of that scrap.
Reference was made just now to the Hepworth statue and how its melt-down value would not have been very much in comparison to its insurance value. The right reverend Prelate, on behalf of the churches, made very clear the overall cost to churches when they are robbed of the lead on their roofs, very often not just once, and the difficulty with insurance going up. The cost of these crimes is not just the melt-down value of the metals. It is also the consequential losses.
I would also respectfully remind my noble friend of the developing pattern in metal theft of what is referred to as rare earth. Very small quantities of these valuable metals can raise significantly more than copper and other more traditional metals. They are the sort of metals found in wind turbines and electricity generating stations. They are now starting to appear because yet again their value on the world market has gone up. Any reform to the scrap-metal act needs to take account
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I welcome the Government's move to take out the question of this being a cash-based business-and one hesitates almost to use the word "business" in this context, but I suppose one must. They should bear in mind in any changes that they are bringing in to cover these wider issues that there is a sense of urgency about the need for more radical change. That change, if it is to address the increasing problems that we have, must look to those trends and to the future.
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I am very grateful indeed for the way in which the Minister, in particular, and the Government have responded to the difficulties that have been raised. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, for his speech. I want to make one very simple point, as the hour is rather late. I seem to remember that Steptoe and Son was an itinerant operation that operated from a scrap-metal yard. Surely there is not a cordon sanitaire between the scrap-metal operation and the itinerant collector. Is it really the case that the only people that the Minister describes as having received these licences are people unconnected with scrap-metal yards? It seems a rather bizarre idea, which is why I am tempted to support the further amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner.
Lord Campbell-Savours: The House is indebted to my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester for tabling this amendment because it raises an issue that we should not be discussing at nearly midnight in an empty House of Lords. It should have been debated at prime time, as it is a central part of the legislation. The Minister referred to a sustainable long-term solution and then to the need for further legislation. If the Private Members' Bill procedure is used in the House of Commons-I am told that the idea is that it will be used because of the shortage of time in the next Session due to the need to push through the House of Lords reform Bill-it is distinctly probable that, unless the Government give it government time, the Bill will fall. Those of us who have been in the Commons know that most Private Members' Bills in the House of Commons fall. There is simply an objection to block them on the Friday when they are being considered. We need something far more substantial than simply a vague reference to further legislation being considered in the future. We need a consolidated piece of legislation, which brings the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001, the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, the Motor Salvage Operators Regulations, this Bill dealing with cashless arrangements and a properly enforceable regulatory system together in a single piece of legislation. I believe that the way the Government are proceeding today is the wrong way.
"Does the Minister not recognise that the public may be shocked that a cashless scheme might not be cashless under the Home Secretary's proposals, which exclude mobile collectors?
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"The ... answer is no. Those involved in door-to-door sales will need to trade their product through scrap metal dealers, so they will be subject to the Bill's provisions".-[Official Report, Commons, 19/3/12; col. 506.]
What does that mean in reality? A thief may go into wherever, steal a war memorial, break it up, contact an itinerant trader and sell it for cash to the itinerant trader, as I can see nothing in this legislation that stops him selling it for cash. The itinerant trader either then boxes it up and sends it abroad or destroys the markings which show the origins of the material. Then he goes into the legitimate system by selling it to a registered trader. In other words, in those conditions the Government's objective to stop cashless trading where it affects war memorials, rolls of copper from railway lines or whatever, will not be met at all because the trade will simply switch into an itinerant Traveller trade. At least at the moment that trade is going into an area of the market which perhaps is acting illegally in parts but which should under the new arrangements be subject to a cashless system. Therefore, as I say, the Government's objective will not be met.
The noble Lord says that under Section 3(1)(a) of the 1964 Act there is an element of control over these itinerant traders. However, we know that they have no phone lines. They probably use pay-as-you-go mobiles. They rarely have an address. They invariably have no fixed abode. They also claim that they have no bank accounts. They are capable of exporting abroad because they have networks. The noble Baroness, Lady Browning, referred to the networks that are run by criminals. They can send the material to Scotland, which I understand is not introducing this legislation, although I am sure the Minister will correct me if I am wrong about that. This whole business will switch from a legitimate area-it is legitimate in the sense that we could potentially control the movement of these items which have been taken illegally-into an illegitimate area of trade run by itinerant Travellers, who will not in any way be subject to any legislation because, as far as they and the authorities are concerned, it is unenforceable. Therefore, why do we not simply delay the legislation and introduce a proper piece of legislation which requires a more proportionate system of regulation and which deals more effectively with the problem?
The other day someone asked me over the phone how you measure the material going into these yards. Often, someone sends out a skip, the material is put in the skip and they do not know when they are collecting it and paying for it how much of what is in the skip comprises metal. Who will be responsible for dividing it up when, at the end of a year, the authorities come in-or perhaps come in-and carry out some kind of audit to ensure that all the metal has been paid for by way of a cheque or a legitimate means of payment? The question of separation of materials by scrapyards is something that the Government should deal with.
We are told that at the end of five years this matter will be reviewed. Why are we waiting five years? The industry says that it will not work. The Minister has been told repeatedly by the industry that, although it
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Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, I am as appalled and as horrified as anyone at the heartless, dangerous and very costly spate of metal thieving that we have suffered in recent years. There is nothing new in the offence as such. I remember the theft of a bronze head of Gladstone from a very public spot in Penmaenmawr in my erstwhile parliamentary constituency in the 1980s, where the great man used to bathe in the sea. Despite all my efforts, the bust was never found. Of course, it was an isolated incident, not part of an intense extensive campaign of metal thieving of the kind that we have experienced in recent times.
I wholeheartedly support the special efforts that are being made by the authorities, and especially by the task force led by the British Transport Police, to gain intelligence and arrest the perpetrators of these dastardly crimes. However, the amendments that we are discussing do not fall directly into this category. They are directed at the potential receivers of stolen metal. I stress the word "potential" because I am not at all convinced that the bulk of stolen metal is disposed of through the numerous scrap-metal dealers, many of whom are properly registered with local authorities and keep proper books of receipts and disposals according to the provisions of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.
Yet these scrap-metal dealers are the main targets of the amendment. Although they can be visited by the police and other authorities at any time, their relationship with the authorities is usually strongly co-operative, if only because the scrapyards themselves are often the target of metal thieves. The real culprits are more likely to be found among the unregistered dealers and operators. They are far more likely to be the receivers of stolen scrap metal, along with the so-called itinerants whom we have talked about already this evening. Not all are as innocuous as Steptoe & Son, who curiously enjoyed special exemption under the 1964 Act. Such people cannot be inspected by the police without a warrant. Their position is still somewhat ambiguous and confusing under the government amendment because, as I read it, they can still maintain a scrapyard and be exempt from the no-cash deal restriction.
We heard an explanation from the noble Lord when I intervened, but I am not at all clear how an itinerant collector of scrap can end up with no cash at the end of his deal when he gets back to the yard, which is presumably his own yard or that of his partner. Of
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I suspect that the prohibition of cash transactions has more to do with the Revenue than the theft issue. I would be glad if the Minister could enlighten us further on that cashless requirement. If the Revenue is concerned about VAT, I am told that dealers in the Republic of Ireland collect the tax for the Government and that the system works satisfactorily. In this context, we tend to forget the social benefit of scrapyards in disposing of metal waste from residential and other properties. We are glad to see defunct materials taken away from our premises. The fact that the plumber or the electrician gets some money for the old cast iron cistern or old lead piping does not bother us individually. We are glad to be rid of it in registered scrapyards. The majority of these transactions involve comparatively small sums, and there is an argument for allowing de minimis cash transactions of this kind, which I hope the Government will consider. They are the bread and butter income of many small scrapyards, which may have to discontinue trading if they are subjected to cashless trading that may drive customers-sellers-away to unlicensed traders.
The cashless trading requirement must be a unique prohibition in this country. I can think of no other trading activity where the use of cash is banned. I have concentrated on the typical registered scrapyard, which is unfairly and indiscriminately targeted by the cashless proposal favoured by the Government and by the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner. However, many of them are collectors and contributors to the success of the 300 or so members of the British Metal Recycling Association, who are the major players in the green manufacturing business, recovering some 13 million tonnes of metal from 2 million cars, 5 billion food and drink cans and so on to sell back to metal producers. They contribute £6 billion to the UK economy and generate exports of about £3.6 billion.
The BMRA appears to be reconciled to the cashless proposal but wants a better definition of scrap-metal dealers as such and a clampdown on the unlicensed operators. It also wants clarification of cash allocations to ensure the better identification of sellers. It has a great deal of that in the amendment. All this seems eminently sensible, and the Government have certainly gone some way to meet its demands. The outstanding issue is the unlicensed scrap dealer in unlicensed premises and, of course, the metal thieves themselves.
On the review of the offence of buying scrap metal for cash, five years is a long time to wait before it takes place. It should be done after a shorter period of, say, three years, which I am sure would provide ample data.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I will not take the time of the House by sharing anecdotes and expressing gratitude; all that can be taken as read. It is late, but the House is a good deal fuller than it was earlier this evening. I share many concerns expressed about the
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Will the Minister say something about the timetable for implementation? Like others, I look forward to the wholesale reform of the system. However, clearly these provisions are designed to come into effect before that will happen. Will the government amendments that will find their way into the Bill come into effect immediately on enactment? I add to the point about the review and express concern about the speed with which we will see wider reform. If we are looking to review the provisions in five years, let us hope that they will have been overtaken long before then.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Faulkner on taking this matter forward with so much pressure and commitment. My concern is that we seem to be discussing a parallel universe. The people in the BMRA, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, do everything according to the book, and we are very grateful to them. However, I believe that there is the growing involvement of organised crime in this, as the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, said.
I have heard quite a lot of evidence about the way in which containers can disappear overseas without anyone knowing what is in them. It is not very difficult, especially if you do not live in a leafy part of Surrey or Buckinghamshire, to hide containers, and itinerant scrap merchants can get the metal into containers without anyone knowing very much. Perhaps the money comes from overseas. As many noble Lords said, the problem will grow. In the short term, the only solution is to support my noble friend's amendment to get rid of this major loophole.
Lord Henley: My Lords, perhaps I may sum up the debate and address some of the points. Earlier I paid tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, for all that he had done on the matter. I also pay tribute to my noble friend Lady Browning, who was the Minister who dealt with this before me. Only a few days before she unfortunately resigned and I moved to the Home Office, she summoned me and a host of other Ministers to the Home Office to discuss what we could do government-wide to address the problem. As a Defra Minister with a considerable interest in recycling and associated matters, I went along and said that it was possible that we might be able to do something through the Environment Agency. Soon after I left the meeting, my noble friend moved on and I found myself moving to the Home Office and in effect writing a letter from myself to myself to try to address these problems.
I am grateful for all that my noble friend did, and for the fact that she has now underlined some of the other problems that are beginning to appear in this matter. She referred to the problems with rare earths.
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I pay tribute to everything that my noble friend has done to highlight these problems. Similarly, I pay tribute to what the right reverend Prelate had to say and thank him for coming to see me to highlight the serious problems that the church is facing, particularly with the theft of lead roofs and with getting insurance on a great many church properties because of what is going on.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, asked me to comment on House of Lords reform. At this time of night, that is beyond my pay grade and I am not going to deal with it, but no doubt we will have further opportunities to discuss it in due course. He talked about the need for consolidated reform. I agree with him; I would like that in due course. I have made it clear that what we are doing at this stage is bringing forward the first stage of a package to get coherent reform in this area. It would not be right to delay the first few steps of that, as the noble Lord is suggesting, purely because we cannot get on to the other bits; we will get to those other bits in due course.
The noble Lord also said that the industry says that this will not work. Like the noble Lord, I have talked to the industry. I have addressed the BMRA; I have been to its annual parliamentary reception. The BMRA has made it quite clear to me that it welcomes virtually every aspect of reform. The only aspect that it is not terribly keen on is getting rid of cash. As someone else once said, "They would say that, wouldn't they?". I happen to think, as do most people in this House, that getting rid of cash from these transactions is a very useful thing to do and something that we ought to address.
The noble Lord made two other points that ought to be addressed. He asked about itinerants. I made it quite clear in my opening remarks that only itinerant collectors who are subject to an order under Section 3(1) of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act from their local authority, approved by the local chief officer of police, will be exempted. If they are also a scrap dealer and they have a yard, they will no longer fall within that definition of being an itinerant trader and therefore they will not be exempt. We are only talking about a very small number of people, who will be covered by the regulations that are in place at the moment. They are regulated.
Lord Campbell-Savours: The Minister seeks to reassure us, but what happens if over the next few years there is a noticeable shift in favour of itinerant collectors and the illegal trade? Will the Government come back to amend the legislation or will they review it?
Lord Henley: My Lords, we have made it quite clear that we are going to review it. We are going to keep this under control. The noble Lord is forgetting how few of these itinerant traders there are. They are not the people with the yards; they are people who are
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Lord Henley: My Lords, I cannot give the noble Lord that figure without notice. I have no idea. I imagine that it might be possible, at disproportionate cost, to find out the number. All I am saying is that if they want to be an itinerant trader of that sort, they need a licence from their local authority and that has to be approved by the police. There is a very strict control on that particular aspect.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, rightly pointed to another problem-displacement. Could some of this go to Scotland? We are well aware of this problem. As the French discovered when they introduced a similar system, there was a danger that things would cross the border into Belgium and Germany. I have discussed this with colleagues in Northern Ireland and Scotland, although Scotland is more important, as there is a land border. Our colleagues in Scotland are well aware of what we are doing and are in full consultation with us. They will try to make sure that whatever they do keeps in line with what we wish to do.
The noble Lord is, for honourable reasons, merely seeking delay-delay that I am sure the BMRA would think was a worthy object to achieve. However, we do not think that it is right. We think that it is right to get rid of cash as soon as possible from this industry and that that will make a difference.
The last point that I want to address is that made by my noble friend Lady Hamwee about timing. I am afraid that I cannot give any categorical assurances to her about when and how we will get that further legislation. However, I make it clear, as my honourable friends in another place have done, that this is the first part of the package. We want to continue taking forward a coherent package to deal with all the other matters in the future, but I cannot give her any guarantee about timing.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I did not expect my noble friend to be able to help me with regard to future legislation. I am sorry that I did not make myself clear. I was asking about commencement of these provisions, which will shortly find their way into the Bill and the Bill will no doubt shortly make its way on to the statute book. I am concerned about the current provisions.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to this fascinating debate. It is sad that it has taken place so late at night. Many other noble Lords would have liked to hear it, because it has been of a high quality.
I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Browning. I have seen some of the letters that she wrote when she was a Minister. I can confirm that, had she been there still, we would have had legislation along the lines of what we are discussing this evening. Her commitment to the subject is four square. I also pay tribute to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, not only for what he said and his knowledge of the subject, but for his knowledge of "Steptoe and Son". He may be showing his age, as are all of us who remember the programme, but "Steptoe and Son" has played a part in this debate and it is right that he mentioned it.
I do not agree with my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours about delaying this aspect. I am with the Minister on that. The important thing is that we get on with the cashless system and that we do it quickly. I hope that it will be followed rapidly by legislation of a more substantive nature that will sort out the problem of the 1964 Act. The cash as part of this scrap-metal industry is enormous. The latest estimates are that, out of a £5 billion turnover, cash accounts for about £1 billion. Large quantities of this escape the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise, and it is very much an undercover operation. It is in all our interests as citizens that this issue is dealt with.
I should like to pay tribute to ACPO and the British Transport Police for the initiatives that they have taken in attempting to address the problems. They have conducted a lot of raids on scrapyards and have come across a very large amount of stolen goods. The Minister referred to Operation Tornado in the north-east, which was very successful. I should like to pay tribute to him for his part in encouraging that and for putting himself around the country in order to find out what has been going on. I was a little disappointed by his defence of the itinerant collector's exemption. I think that he said that we might be able to return to this at Third Reading. I will read what he said on that with some care, but I was encouraged by his commitment to bring forward further measures in due course.
Of course the Government's amendment is superior to mine. If I had the number of lawyers working for me that the Government have available to them, I should have been able to produce an amendment at least as good as theirs. However, I should like to pay tribute to the Public Bill Office. It was not the Government who found the opportunity to put this amendment into this legislation; it was the Public Bill Office advising me that I was allowed to do it and the Government taking up the principle. That should go on the record.
The noble Lord, Lord Henley, is mastering the subject and is on top of it. I know that he will do what he can with his colleagues to make sure that we have the substantive legislation as soon as possible. I hope that he will have heard the voices around the Chamber tonight who want this to come quickly. Bearing in mind that the Government amendment is superior to mine, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I am sure that the House will find it convenient if we discuss all the amendments relating to Clause 136 in one group and, therefore, I intend to regroup them. I am sure that your Lordships will not need reminding that this matter was not discussed at all in Committee in the Commons and was discussed very late at night in your Lordships' House, although it was not at a quarter to midnight.
Even given your Lordships' stamina, I do not think that this is any way in which to deal with a major point of principle. It is no accident that squatting in an empty property has never before been criminalised in the UK. In its historic context, it has been seen as a humane response to the homeless seeking shelter. Any big change deserves more scrutiny than it has so far had in its entire passage through Parliament. Even though the hour is late, I hope that we will discuss the principle and, should Parliament decide on the principle that the Government are asking for, some of the practical measures that need to be further considered. That is what my amendments seek to address.
This is a cross-departmental matter. It will involve the Home Office because the police will have to spend a lot more time and resources. It will involve the Department for Communities and Local Government because local authorities will be involved in rehousing tens of thousands of people who will be made homeless. The MoJ will be involved because of all the people who will end up being criminalised. In addition, there is the entire housing issue, and I am sure that your Lordships will join me in wishing that this had come as part of a housing Bill.
We need to talk about a lot of issues, but I will turn directly to the practicality of my amendments. Amendment 157A was suggested by the charity for the homeless, Crisis. This is an issue about homelessness. If a building has been empty for more than 12 months, someone squatting in it should not be criminalised. I spoke to that issue at greater length in Committee, so I will leave it at that for now.
Amendments 157B and 157C deal with "residential". The Bill defines "residential" very loosely. If a garage had a bed in it, even someone wandering into it and lying on that bed could criminalise themselves by that action. The drafting of the definition of residential is far too wide, and we should think about it.
Amendment 157D deals with the even more worrying issue of retrospectivity. No one knows exactly-I have asked Written Questions on this and the Government have admitted that they do not know-but there could be up to 50,000 or 60,000 people squatting at the moment. If they are all criminalised overnight, what will they do? Will they present themselves as homeless to local authorities? That is what retrospectivity means
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I am grateful to the Minister and his colleague, Crispin Blunt, who talked through transition measures with me, but there is an awful lot more we need to discuss with regard to this. I cannot think of a single local authority which would be in a position at the moment to deal with anything like 200 homeless people presenting themselves on its doorstep, let alone thousands. This is a big issue which needs further discussion. As I have said, it obviously has cross-departmental implications.
In fact, it is practicality which worries me most. The Government could choose to bring this measure in over a considerably longer period because we cannot solve the problem extremely quickly. I am sure that in their hearts the Government do not want to criminalise a section of the population who, very often through no fault of their own, are homeless. The clause is about squatters, but if you described them as "vulnerable homeless", most people's reaction would be different. I know the debate in the press and in political circles has been coloured by perhaps a dozen cases that the press have quoted, but I remind your Lordships that they were of squatters who went into someone's home and that people's homes are already protected in legislation. There are thousands of people out there who are in empty properties because they are homeless and seeking shelter. The Government need to give further thought to how they are going to deal with so many people presenting themselves as homeless. I beg to move.
Baroness Lister of Burtersett: I am pleased to have added my name in support of the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer. I pay tribute to her for her tenacity in making sure that this damaging clause is not completely overlooked. Both in Committee and today she has made a powerful case. I am only sorry that I was not able to be present in Committee.
I ask noble Lords to stop and think who we identify with because that will colour our attitudes to the clause and the amendments. In the Guardian last week a Ministry of Justice spokesman was quoted as it being,
I ask the Minister for his evidence of this. My point is that most of us are probably property owners-that is, we own our own homes-and the thought someone of breaking in and squatting in our homes while we are not there is, indeed, painful. In contrast, it is highly unlikely that any noble Lords have, either from choice or necessity because of homelessness, squatted. It is therefore not surprising that I detect a degree of unease about opposing this clause. However, a Government committed to evidence-based policy-making should not rely on misleading stereotypes.
This clause is not there to protect the homes of people like us. As we have heard, the law already does that. There was a letter in the Guardianlast year from
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I do not know about other noble Lords, but I find it quite distressing that I am finding more and more rough sleepers on the streets of London. It is reminding me of the 1980s. This is a welfare and homelessness issue that is growing.
In Committee, the Minister said that the Government wanted to send a clear message to existing and would-be squatters. To my mind, there is too much legislation about sending messages, especially when it is a message which involves criminalising a vulnerable group of people. I fear, however, that this is not about sending a message to squatters; this is about sending a message to the right-wing press, which has conducted a misleading and pernicious campaign on this matter, demonising homeless people in the process.
I would like us to send a message tonight-a message that we are willing to put ourselves in the shoes of homeless people for whom squatting and empty property offer a meagre lifeline and that we oppose this nasty little clause. Therefore, despite the lateness of the hour, if the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, chooses to test the opinion of the House on one of her amendments, I very much hope that noble Lords would be willing to support it.
Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, in some circumstances I might have hesitated to support the amendments that have been tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer. However, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves-circumstances in which the Government have made drastic cuts to new provision of social housing and have introduced reforms to housing benefit which will cause significant numbers of people to lose their homes-I can only support the noble Baroness's amendments. I do not think it is right to criminalise vulnerable homeless people, as she describes them, who seek to find a roof over their heads in empty properties in these circumstances.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I would like to support my noble friend as well. I share her concerns about criminalisation. I agree so much with everything that has been said so far, so let me see if I can extract the questions from my notes. First, with regard to this new
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One of my noble friend's amendments refers to the police and enforcement. Clearly, she is right to draw attention to that because it is a matter of enforcement. Her first amendment, relating to 12 months, strikes me as being quite modest given that the provisions in force, the Empty Dwellings Management Orders-they were brought in when there were nearly 700,000 empty homes but the figure may well be higher-provide a six-month exemption. A period of 12 months therefore seems quite modest.
I am also concerned about the term "residential". In its bare form, is that term used elsewhere in legislation? The suggestion in the amendments is to link this to classes of use. The Bill provides simply for "residential" to be a building,
I am not sure what "live" means or what permanence that implies. I know of a number of buildings that are adapted as places to reside. I would include in those City offices where in the past I have had all-night meetings and I know that those had every facility one could possibly need. I daresay government departments have those as well.
Finally, I should like to pick up the references made to the vulnerability of people who find themselves in a position where they take the decision to squat. It is hardly a decision because it is the only course open to them aside from rough sleeping. It is not a desirable thing to do and I do not believe that most people who do this would not prefer conventional accommodation. One of the organisations which has been in touch with some noble Lords is called Squash, which is almost an acronym for Squatters' Action for Secure Homes. That is such a telling name. What is being proposed will drive people who want secure homes into much more dangerous situations. I am delighted that my noble friend has put so much effort into addressing the issues raised by these clauses.
Lord Bach: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, on raising yet again this completely unnecessary clause towards the end of this long Bill. It is well described as unjust, unnecessary and, indeed, unaffordable. I shall come to those in a moment. We all know that homelessness is on the rise. Since we last debated the issue in Committee, figures show that in London the rise in the number of those who are sleeping on the streets is higher than it was 12 months ago and 24 months ago. That surely must be of concern to us. Of course we must make a distinction between those who are lifestyle squatters and those who are forced into squatting. Some 40 per cent of homeless people live in squats because they prefer that to living on the street. This is about housing, as the noble Baroness said in moving the amendment. It should be treated as a housing issue, not a criminal justice issue.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, mentioned the Criminal Law Act 1977 and its powers to deal with this menace when it really is a menace. I ask the noble Baroness, Lady Northover: what is the need for a new criminal offence as far as this is concerned?
Lord Bach: I am very glad to have the support of the noble Lord, Lord Oakeshott. But one of the principles of this Government, as I understood, was that it would not bring in this kind of new criminal legislation unless it was really necessary to do so. What, apart from a hostile media, makes it necessary for the Government to bring in this piece of new criminal legislation?
As far as unaffordability is concerned-and this is a matter I would like the noble Baroness to deal with-a methodology and use of government data endorsed, as I understand it, by a range of academics and legal practitioners has been used to calculate that this clause could cost £790 million to the taxpayer over the next five years. This is far in excess of the £350 million that the whole Bill is supposed to save, although some of us think that is a completely false figure, particularly as far as Part 1 is concerned.
The Government's impact assessment estimates the costs as £25 million over five years. No attempt, it seems, has been made to account for the costs of rehousing and rehabilitating those who currently squat, and estimates of the costs to the criminal justice system are far too low. The organisation ALTER, which is Action for Land Taxation and Economic Reform, says:
I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for her Amendment 157A, and if she were to ask to vote on it, even at this late hour, we would be happy to support it. We like it particularly because she has kindly taken notice of what was said in debate in Committee last time, and the six months is now 12 months, which seems to me, personally, to be a better timescale for the building being empty. However if, as may happen, she does not press this amendment to a vote, I hope she does not drop this issue. In fact, I am sure she will not, and will do her very best to make sure that it comes back before the Bill moves on and this ridiculous, silly clause becomes the law, and we start to criminalise the vulnerable and homeless, who should not be criminalised.
Baroness Northover: My Lords, my noble friend Lord McNally has explained in previous debates why Clause 136 is important to the Government. If somebody stole a car, a handbag or a phone, most people would expect there to be criminal consequences if the offender were caught. Yet, where squatters deprive a person of their residential property, some do not regard this as a crime. We do not accept that logic. The occupation of other people's homes causes misery, and squatting in residential property should be a criminal offence.
Baroness Northover: I will come to that in a minute. As I say, occupation of other people's homes causes misery, and squatting in residential property should be a criminal offence just as the theft of a car would be.
Nor do we agree that squatting is a reasonable answer to homelessness, which is the key point here. In fact it is often dangerous and bad for health, and ideally people should be in mainstream services. We share my noble friend's concern about homelessness, but squatting is not the answer.
We are therefore proposing a balanced approach: clamping down on the squatting in residential buildings on the one hand, while ensuring that genuinely vulnerable people who might be at risk of squatting or rough sleeping are given the support that they need to find alternative forms of accommodation. We are investing £400 million in homelessness prevention over the next four years, with the homelessness grant being maintained at 2010-11 levels. We also announced in December the first ever £20 million fund to prevent single homelessness. That will help to ensure that single homeless people get the help and advice that they need, and do not have to resort to sleeping on the streets or in squats.
We have also brought together eight government departments through the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness to tackle the complex causes of homelessness. The group published its first report, Vision to End Rough Sleeping, in July 2011, which sets out joint commitments to tackle homelessness. The working group will publish its second report on preventing homelessness later this spring.
We are also tackling the number of empty homes that often attract anti-social behaviour, vandalism and squatting. We recently announced £70 million of funding to bring more than 5,600 homes back into use as affordable housing. We will announce a further £30 million shortly, including funding for community and voluntary groups.
My noble friend's Amendment 157A would exempt squatters who occupied buildings that had been empty for a year or more. We believe that that is wrong in principle. We would not accept that after a year of non-use it would be defensible to deprive owners of their other assets such as cars or phones. Moreover, there are many legitimate reasons why a residential building might be left empty for a year or more-for example, when a property is inherited following a death and probate takes some time to be sorted out.
The amendment would also make the offence more difficult to enforce as it would enable squatters facing a charge to argue that the property had been empty for years even if they had no idea whether that was true. Instead of legal arguments turning on the true issue at stake-the criminal occupation of somebody else's residence-this would muddy the water and put the focus back on the police or the home owner to show how long it had been empty for.
Amendment 157B would remove the definition of "building", leaving it unclear what "building" in the offence covers and leading to legal arguments on this matter. Amendment 157C would delete the definition of "residential" in Clause 136 and replace it with a new definition. The only residential buildings which would be covered by the offence as a result of the new definition would be those which are used for the purposes set out in class categories C3 and C4 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987.
The amendments would introduce confusion and complexity. The advantage of the existing clause is that any structure-permanent or temporary, moveable or immoveable-is covered by the offence if it has been designed or adapted for use as a place to live.
My noble friend's Amendment 157D would further weaken the offence by exempting squatters who entered a building prior to commencement of the offence. This would clearly not be in the interests of home owners. It would not make sense if an offender who entered a property the day before commencement, for example, could not be convicted if they continued to live in the premises against the wishes of the property owner after the offence commenced.
Amendment 160B suggests that the Secretary of State should report to Parliament prior to commencement on likely costs of the new offence to the criminal justice system and local authorities. We published an impact assessment which included costs to the criminal justice system. The impact assessment also recognised that there might be an impact on local authorities if squatters approached them for support. Requiring the Secretary of State to report further on these issues prior to commencement is therefore not necessary.
I know that when my noble friend met the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Crispin Blunt, one of her main fears was that there would be a surge in applications for social housing in the days following commencement. We have taken my noble friend's point on board. I can assure her that through the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office will work together to ensure that any local enforcement against squatting is carried out in partnership with local homelessness services to mitigate against an associated increase in rough sleeping.
We will also liaise with local authorities in advance of commencement to ensure that they are aware of the new offence if squatters approach them for help and to remind them of their duties towards homeless people. We will encourage authorities to make use of the good practice advice letter and an additional £20 million of
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My noble friend Lady Hamwee and the noble Lord, Lord Bach, asked about the current law and why this was not sustained by what was already there. Why the need for a new offence? The current law can be improved so that it does more to deter squatters from entering and occupying a residential building without permission in the first place. We believe that there should be a specific criminal offence that protects people from those who squat in their residential buildings and that this offence should not be limited to cases where a squatter refuses to leave when required to do so. In addition, the offence under Section 7 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 does not protect residential property owners who are not displaced occupiers or protected intending occupiers. Currently, they may need to seek repossession of their properties in the civil courts, which can be time-consuming and expensive. That is why we feel that the law needs to be changed.
It is extremely late or extremely early, depending on how you define it. I commend my noble friend and other noble Lords who have taken part in this debate for their concern about the problem of homelessness. I hope that my noble friend will take time to look at what I have said in this reply. If a further meeting between her and my noble friend Lord McNally and other noble friends or honourable friends in other places would be of help between now and Third Reading, I would be happy to arrange it. I hope, on that basis, that my noble friend will withdraw her amendment.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have not only stayed but spoken so passionately that it makes up in quality for what we did not have in numbers. Several other noble Lords who were not able to stay have expressed their sadness about that. The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, spoke extremely powerfully. In one way I am glad she was not able to speak in Committee because it gave us the chance to hear some of the arguments lying at the very basis of this issue. It is important to remember, as she outlined, that this is about homeless people. I was disappointed by the Minister's reply when she kept emphasising the occupation of someone else's residence or home. These are not residences or homes, by and large; they are simply empty properties. This is the basis of the misunderstanding and it is what I have tried to get to the bottom of.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, for his support and to my noble friend Lady Hamwee who, as always, asked some very incisive questions, some of which I do not feel were fully answered tonight. The noble Lord, Lord Bach, is quite right when he says that I took his advice on extending the six months suggested by Crisis to 12 months, because that puts it beyond doubt that the property is empty. In fact, there are definitions, as my noble friend Lady Hamwee said, of an empty property, and my amendment is more modest than those.
I have not heard anything new from the Minister tonight about the transition measures. She mentioned that local authorities would be approached by those being criminalised, but I wonder whether she is aware-
Baroness Northover: I had a long list of other measures that have been taken, but I thought that the best thing might be to write to the noble Baroness with that rather than detain people too long tonight.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: Can she give me an assurance that it will be possible to come back on this at Third Reading on the basis of that? Can the Minister clarify what she is saying? She says that she has a list of other measures, but we will not know what they are this evening because she is not reading them out. We will need to know what they are before we decide what to do. She will need to go through the list.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I am grateful to the Minister for clarifying the fact that it is still open. Therefore, it is free for me to bring the matter back before your Lordships at Third Reading.
Lord Bach: I do not think that that is quite what the Minister said. She said that it was open-I do not think that she said that it would be open for the noble Baroness to bring it back at Third Reading. Perhaps the noble Baroness should ask her again and see what her answer is.
Baroness Northover: My noble friend says that we have discussed the possibility of meeting and considering this further. I gave her the assurance that this was still open because that was what I was informed, and I reiterate that assurance.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I am grateful to my noble friend. I suspect that that is as far as we can go this evening. I have to say on the record that if I find that the agreement does not hold, I shall have to consider my position very carefully.
I still want to put on record the point that I was about to make because it is very pertinent. The Government should not be under any illusion that local authorities
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"Most are also recognised as homeless by the LA (78 per cent) but few are entitled to accommodation under the terms of the homelessness legislation, typically because they are not considered 'priority need', or are deemed 'intentionally homeless'".
That leaves thousands of young and middle-aged people in this country potentially being criminalised. We have not heard what measures the Government will put in place tonight to mitigate that. I am in some doubt as to whether we will be able to return to this issue, but I am sure that when the House reads this debate it will be the will of the House that we return to it. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
(a) in section 1(7) (dealer failing to register) the words from "a fine" to the end;
(b) in section 2(6) (dealer failing to record dealings) the words from "a fine" to the end;
(c) in section 3(4) (itinerant collector failing to keep receipts) the words from "a fine" to the end;
(d) in section 4(4) (convicted dealer failing to meet additional requirements) the same words before "and the court".
(a) in section 1(8) (dealer failing to give notice of cessation of business) the words from "a fine" to the end;
(b) in section 5(1) (dealer acquiring metal from a person under 16) the same words before the proviso;
(c) in section 5(2) (selling metal to a dealer under a false name or address) the words from "a fine" to the end;
(d) in section 6(5) (obstructing entry and inspection) the words from "a fine" to the end."
(a) by a cheque which under section 81A of the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 is not transferable, or
(b) by an electronic transfer of funds (authorised by credit or debit card or otherwise).
(a) the scrap metal dealer;
(b) a person who makes the payment acting for the dealer;
(c) a manager who fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the payment being made in breach of subsection (1).
(5) In subsection (4)(c) "manager" means a person who works in the carrying on of the dealer's business as a scrap metal dealer in a capacity, whether paid or unpaid, which authorises the person to prevent the payment being made in breach of subsection (1).
(a) the payment is made in the carrying on of the dealer's business as a scrap metal dealer as part of the business of an itinerant collector, and
(b) at the time of the payment an order under section 3(1) is in force in relation to the dealer.
"(da) where paragraph (d) applies, any part of the price that is unpaid at the time when the entry is to be made;".
(a) the dealer must keep, with the book containing the entry relating to receipt of the scrap metal, a copy of the cheque (if the payment was by cheque), or any receipt identifying the transfer (if the payment was by electronic transfer and such a receipt was obtained), and
(b) the particulars required by this section to be entered include those listed in subsection (4B).
(a) the full name and address of any person who makes the payment acting for the dealer;
(b) the full name and address of the person to whom the payment is made;
(c) in the case of an electronic transfer where no receipt identifying the transfer was obtained, particulars identifying the transfer.
(a) must be made immediately after the payment is made, and
(b) if not made at the same time as the entry relating to receipt of the scrap metal, must identify the metal by reference to that entry."
(a) after "books" insert ", and the obligation imposed by subsection (4A)(a) of that section to keep anything with a book,";
(b) after "the like particulars" insert ", and to keeping the same things,";
(c) for "and (3)" substitute ", (3) and (4A) to (4D)".
(a) omit "or" at the end of paragraph (a), and
(b) after that paragraph insert-
"(aa) is convicted of an offence under section 3A, or".
"(3A) Whether or not a place is one to which a constable has a right of entry in accordance with subsection (1), a justice of the peace may issue a warrant described in subsection (3B) if satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the place-
(a) is a scrap metal store where scrap metal paid for contrary to section 3A is or has been received or kept, or
(b) is a place to which admission is reasonably required in order to ascertain whether that section is being complied with.
(3B) The warrant is a warrant signed by the justice issuing it which specifies the place concerned and authorises a constable to enter the place, if need be by force, at any time within one month from the date of the warrant.
(a) to inspect that place;
(b) to require production of, and to inspect, any scrap metal kept at that place;
(c) to require production of and to inspect any book which the dealer is required by this Act to keep at that place and any copy or receipt required to be kept with the book, or, as the case may be, any receipt which the dealer is required to keep as mentioned in section 3(1)(b), and to take copies of the book, copy or receipt;
(d) to require production of and to inspect any other record kept at that place relating to payment for scrap metal, and to take copies of the record."
(a) carry out a review of the offence created by that subsection, and
(b) publish a report of the conclusions of the review.
(a) set out the objectives intended to be achieved by creating the offence,
(b) assess the extent to which those objectives have been achieved, and
(c) assess whether it is appropriate to retain the offence to achieve those objectives."
Lord McNally: My Lords, at this hour of the night I would like to move these government amendments formally but I do not think that I can. Amendment 159 would bring Clause 113 into force on the date of Royal Assent. Clause 113 provides a power for the Secretary of State to remove from the United Kingdom foreign national prisoners serving indeterminate sentences once they have served the minimum term, or tariff, set by the sentencing court. This will be known as the tariff expired removal scheme. By commencing this provision on Royal Assent, it will be possible to begin the process of removals under the scheme from that date. There are a number of IPP and life sentence prisoners with deportation orders served against them who are already past their tariff expiry date. The Government would like to be able to start considering these prisoners for removal under the scheme at the earliest opportunity.
The amendments to Clauses 141 and 142 set out the territorial extent of the Bill. The amendments are to tidy up the clauses in the light of changes made to the Bill during its progress through Parliament and to ensure that provisions are as clear as possible. Amendments 163 and 164 amend the Long Title of the Bill to include the references to the Government's amendments on scrap metal and magistrates' courts fines. This is in line with the general rule on making amendments to the Long Title of a Bill to reflect amendments which have been made to the Bill. I beg to move.
(a) section 113, and
(b) this Part."
(a) section 131 extends to England and Wales only,
(b) sections 132 and 133 extend to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland,
(c) paragraphs 1 to 11 of Schedule 24 extend to England and Wales only,
(d) paragraphs 12 to 17 of that Schedule extend to Scotland only, and
(e) Part 2 of that Schedule extends to England and Wales only.
(5) An amendment, repeal or revocation made by this Act has the same extent as the relevant part of the Act or instrument amended, repealed or revoked (ignoring extent by virtue of an Order in Council), subject to subsections (2), (4), (6) and (7).
(a) section 65(7),
(b) section 75(11) and (12),
(c) section 127(4), (5) and (7),
(d) section 137(6),
(e) Part 4 of Schedule 7 and Part 3 of Schedule 8, and
(f) Schedule 15.
(10) But, in so far as sections 138 and 140 confer power to make provision modifying or otherwise relating to a provision of, or made under or applied by, the Armed Forces Act 2006, they have the same extent as that Act (ignoring extent by virtue of an Order in Council)."
"( ) The powers conferred by sections 177, 178 and 222 of the Extradition Act 2003 (powers to apply provisions to extradition to or from British overseas territories and to extend to Channel Islands and Isle of Man) are exercisable in relation to any amendment of that Act that is made by or under this Act."
Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, unfortunately I saw the groupings list yesterday too late, because of the memorable events surrounding the Diamond Jubilee, to be able to do anything about the fact that this amendment had been grouped with those we discussed earlier about restorative justice. I beg the leave of the House to move this amendment at this late hour.
Currently, the Ministry of Justice is embarked on what the Secretary of State has called the "rehabilitation revolution". Many of us who have been trying for years to suggest ways in which the criminal justice system could better protect the public by reducing the reconviction rate have welcomed this initiative and seen this Bill as an opportunity to help the process by moving amendments, many based on practical experience, which could improve the revolution's chance of success. So far, however, I have to admit to a double disappointment. The first was that "rehabilitation" disappeared from the original Title. The second was that so many of our suggestions have been resisted and dismissed out of hand, including my proposal that the original Title should be restored.
Since Committee, two things have happened. First, I have been thinking through the relevance of "desistance", which means abstention from crime by those who previously had engaged in a sustained pattern of offending. I know it is said that the most effective crime-fighting tool is a 30th birthday, but that is not to be taken as justification for doing nothing about rehabilitation
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Secondly, I have reflected on the wise pragmatism of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, regarding my suggestion that "punishment" be replaced by "rehabilitation". I fully understand that the Minister is under strict riding instructions from No. 10 Downing Street and, while I regret those instructions and think that they demonstrate surrender to the popular press rather than clear thinking, as a soldier I understand how chains of command operate. If you think that an order is wrong, you salute, get on with it, and can complain about why it was wrong after trying to carry it out.
Many of the clauses in Part 3 of the Bill-as well as the purpose of many of the amendments we have discussed-are about rehabilitation. Punishment by the courts-the only punishment allowed in a civilised criminal justice system-is covered in the clauses about sentencing. Surely the titles of Bills should explain what they are about. Although the Bill is a hotchpotch of subjects-as the past few hours have shown-at its heart is the rehabilitation revolution, at whose heart are people who presume that it is their business to protect the public by encouraging desistance. To do this effectively, they must not only be resourced but believe that they are carrying out the wish of the Government.
I and others have often quoted the words of Winston Churchill about the way any country treats its crime and punishment being the true test of its civilisation. I do not want to lose that soubriquet, and I want those responsible for the management of offenders to be rightly motivated. I was brought up to believe that there is no such word as "can't", in which spirit-and accepting the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, in Committee-I ask the Minister to ask his political masters to think again, and restore some of our lost faith by adding the words "and Rehabilitation" to the Title of the Bill that returns from this House to the other place. I beg to move.
Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I very much support this amendment and have put my name to it. It is a great shame that we could not find a way to debate this issue right at the beginning, before we started work on the detailed and different parts of this hybrid Bill. Indeed, many of the debates on today's amendments-I am not talking about the last two or three, which seem quite beyond the Bill in many ways-illustrate exactly why this amendment is so relevant and important to the Bill. For example, plans to meet women prisoners' different needs, the debate on restorative justice, better training and rehabilitation plans and post-prison support for young offenders: all of these were about rehabilitation. Indeed, the background to all the work that the Minister has so often talked about is about rehabilitation.
It is quite absurd to be debating what the Title of the Bill should be as we reach the very last pages of the Bill and the very early hour of the following day. If the Minister could accept the amendment, even at this stage, success would have been achieved, giving those who will use the Bill a much better understanding of what it is really about. Above all, it would not have cost the Government one single penny and, over and above that, I am quite certain that the Minister believes-as we certainly do-that in the long run it will save a great deal. I very much hope that he is in a giving mood on this amendment.
Lord McNally: My Lords, I have been wondering whether I dare quote poetry at this hour, but I think noble Lords deserve it. Whenever I hear the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, and the noble Lord, Lord Judd, who I am sure is with us spiritually, I am reminded of these lines from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:
Certainly, as I have said before, there is no lack of sympathy with the promotion of the concept of rehabilitation. Indeed, as I have also said before, I believe that those who argue the case for rehabilitation are doing more for victims and more to reduce crime than those to whom the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, referred earlier today as the "throw away the key brigade". There is no argument between us. The Ministry of Justice believes in rehabilitation, and a large range of our policies are geared to rehabilitation. However, I think most people will look beyond the Short Title of the Bill and judge the Government by their intentions and performance. As many noble Lords have recognised, the Bill contains key measures for the youth and adult criminal justice systems that will contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders. Therefore, although I would very much like to accept this amendment in many
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Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, like the Minister, I have to salute and move on. I am very glad for what he said about the essence of rehabilitation because that is hugely important. Even at this late hour, I make no apologies for moving the amendment because it is very important that all that has been said by many noble Lords during the passage of the Bill reflects the heart of what we are trying to do: namely, to secure the rehabilitation of those who end up in the criminal justice system. However, given the reassurance that everyone is trying to do all they can, and given the lateness of the hour, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
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