The Government attempted last week to introduce a sunset clause that would have killed off the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill after five years.
Conservative Peer and Government Whip Earl Attlee introduced the amendment on behalf of the Government last Friday that introduced a clause that would have automatically repealed the then Scrap Metal Dealers Act to allow for a review of the effectiveness of the legislation.
However, Labour Peer Lord Faulkner of Worcester was one of a number of Peers to criticise the amendment. He said: “In my time here, I can recall a number of occasions where attempts have been made in this House to add a sunset clause to a Bill that has come to us from another place (House of Commons). In every case, these clauses had been felt necessary in order to improve an unsatisfactory Bill – often to insert a safeguard into a measure that was controversial or threatened civil liberties and human rights.
“This is not what we have in front of us this morning. This amendment will not improve the Bill. Indeed it will damage it in two material respects.
“First, passing the amendment will delay the Bill’s enactment, as it would have to go back to the other place to get the amendment agreed. Given the track record of a small number of Conservative MPs who routinely try to use procedural devices to block Private Members’ Bills, who can be certain that those who threatened to talk out this Bill on 9 November – or some of their friends – would not attempt to do the same thing again? If, however, we pass the Bill unamended, it would not need to return to the House of Commons and could obtain Royal Assent almost immediately.
“My second objection to the sunset clause is that it sends the worst possible signal to all those who are desperately attempting to tackle and defeat the metal thieves.”
Peers eventually voted 89 to 31 against introducing the sunset clause meaning the Bill was able to pass through the Committee Stage in the Lords.