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Scrap Bill progresses through Parliament

16 November 2012

by a staff reporter


On its way: scrap metal and crushed vehicles fill a Canadian Channel Construction barge for a trip south for recycling 

On its way: scrap metal and crushed vehicles fill a Canadian Channel Construction barge for a trip south for recycling 

THE Scrap Metal Dealers Bill, which seeks to slash the high rates of metal theft from churches and memorials, has been approved by MPs, and will now go before the House of Lords.

The Private Member's Bill, first put forward by the Conservative MP Richard Ottaway, will establish a national register of scrapyards, and ban cash sales of scrap metal. The Church of England has campaigned strongly for the Bill, and bishops have lobbied MPs to back it ( News, 2 November).

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, wrote to all MPs last week, before the Bill's Third Reading in the House of Commons, asking them to support the Bill to give "help and hope needed to communities whose local memorials and places of worship continue to be targeted by metal thieves".

The Church of England agrees with the British Legion, police, rail industry, scrap-metal trade, Home Office, and Environment Agency that the Bill, if it becomes law, would make a substantial difference to metal thefts.

If passed, all scrap-metal dealers would require a licence to be able to operate. They would also be obliged to verify the identity of anyone selling metal, and all cashless transactions would need to be recorded.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry MP, said: "It is a great relief that the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill has now cleared all its stages in the House of Commons. By making dealing in metal cashless, it will prevent the situation where thieves go out in the night, strip churches of the lead off their roofs, and in the morning take the metal to the scrapyard, get paid cash, and disappear.

"By forcing dealing in metals to become a business-to-business dealing, it will do much to stamp out this despicable crime. In recent years, far too many churches and communities have been desecrated by this despicable offence."

Anne Sloman, who chairs the Church Buildings Council, said: "We now stand a real chance of making a significant impact on the scourge of metal theft, which has had such a devastating effect on churches . . . causing damage not just to the structure of the building, but to morale."

Criminal damage worth an estimated £27 million has been inflicted on churches in England since 2007. The dioceses that have been worst affected by metal thefts during 2012 are Salisbury, Winchester, and Chelmsford.

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