Croydon South MP Richard Ottaway has formally introduced his Private Member’s Bill to regulate the scrap metal industry before Parliament.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill has Government support and will see local authority’s administering scrap yards.
His proposed legislation will stipulate tougher applications to get a dealer’s licence, greater powers for police and local authorities to suspend and revoke licences of illegal operators, and a single national register of licensed dealers.
He said: “I have chosen this bill because current legislation under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 is outdated and ineffective in combating metal theft.
“The problem of metal theft has spiked in recent years, due to a sharp rise in the world price of commodities, and communities have paid a heavy price.
“Unscrupulous thieves are growing bolder and more prolific. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear reports of metal thefts targeting transport systems, telecommunications, energy networks, monuments, memorials and churches.
“These incidents cost hundreds of millions of pounds to our economy, untold disruption to people going about their daily business, heartache, and in some cases, lives.
“I hope my bill will provide the strong legislative framework so desperately needed to empower our local councils and police forces in their fight against offenders who wilfully plunder this country of metal, while also strengthening and supporting legitimate scrap metal dealers.”
He added that his proposals for a new regulatory regime would see local authorities administering the process. This would be funded by licence fees and would build on the introduction of cashless transactions, which was brought in by the Government last month, and due to be introduced this autumn.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill will also oblige scrap metal dealers to complete detailed records of transactions.
Home Office crime prevention and antisocial behaviour reduction Minister Lord Henley said: “We are working closely with Richard Ottaway to ensure the bill will deliver a stronger and more effective licensing regime for the scrap metal industry, replacing the outdated Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.
“It will build on the action we have already taken to ban cash payments by metal dealers, increase fines, give police new powers of entry to scrap metal yards and increased enforcement activity through a £5 million cash injection into the National Metal Theft Taskforce.
“The scourge of metal theft affects individuals, communities and businesses across the country and we hope the bill will receive support from across the House.”
Labour MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn Graham Jones, who attempted to introduce his own metal theft prevention Private Member’s Bill earlier this year, also supports the new Scrap Metal Dealers Bill.
“This bill is the next important stage in the battle to crack down on metal thieves and the criminal scrap metal dealers who buy their ill-gotten goods.
“I am very pleased that Richard has chosen to use his ballot bill to update this country’s scrap metal legislation. Metal theft is a problem across the country, so the sooner we get a change in the law the better. MPs from all parties recognise the importance of making these changes, so it should have the full support of the Commons.”