A proposed ban on scrapyards making cash payments for scrap metal received was put before parliament on Friday (January 20). The new proposed legalisation, the brainchild of Labour MP Graham Jones would restrict payments to traders of scrap metal to non-cash transactions, and would require them to take proof of identification and address when taking receipt of metals.
When originally heard in November, parliament supported the motion, but on Friday (January 20) when the bill went for decision in parliament, government backing for the proposals were less than supportive.
When questioned about the decision, David Hanson MP criticised the government, saying that it had been slow to respond to the problems of Metal Theft. He said: “We have called for the government to change the law to tackle metal theft at a time when we are seeing the desecration of war memorials, when households face repeated power cuts, commuters face increasing delays and churches and public buildings are being damaged. The theft of electric wires is even putting lives at risk.
“Faced with crime on this scale, the government is being far too slow to act.“
Ian Hetherington director general of the British Metals Recycling Association is quoted as saying: “The theft of metal is a huge issue for our industry and so we genuinely welcome the government’s increased focus on it.
“While we agree with many of the proposals in the Metal Theft (Prevention) Bill, there were some details which we felt would not help to solve the issue. We welcome the opportunity to continue to advise and work with Government and the relevant authorities on this issue to stamp out metal theft.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: "We have stepped up enforcement action but believe legislation is needed for a sustainable, long-term solution to the growing menace of metal theft. While we support the aims of the Private Members Bill, we are currently looking at a range of options including what would be the quickest and most effective legislative vehicle for the changes that are needed.”
A number of measures have already been introduced, including funding for a dedicated taskforce to tackle metal thieves led by the British Transport Police, and Operation Tornado a six-month trial in the North East that will require identification to be shown when trading at scrap yards.
Responding to the rejection, Graham Jones MP said: “There is frankly no good reason for the Government to have objected to this Bill, they should be embarrassed and ashamed. The Government’s soft-on-crime approach and out of touch Ministers have led to a missed opportunity. We will now not likely see legislation before the Olympics, possibly not until 2013.”