26 January 2012: am delighted that the Government has decided to join me in tabling an amendment to the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to prohibit the use of cash to purchase scrap metal, and to increase significantly the fines for all offences under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.
This is precisely the approach that I have been urging on them since I first raised it in the House of Lords on 3 October last year, drawing attention to the scale of metal theft in the country, which has now reached epidemic proportions, and touches almost every aspect of our national life. Scarcely a day goes by without a report of trains being delayed by the theft of signalling cable, and of manhole covers, works of art, war memorials, lead from church roofs and sacred objects within churches, electricity sub-station wire all being stolen for its scrap metal value - the list is endless.
I have received scores of messages of support from concerned individuals and organisations: they are unanimous that an essential first step in reforming the law is to outlaw the use of cash in settling transactions. Further legislation to license and regulate this £5 billion industry will need to follow, and I hope to see a bill to do this in the next session of Parliament.
Meanwhile today's announcement from the Government is very good news indeed for everyone - except the individuals who have been profiting in a variety of ways from this despicable crime.
For further information contact Lord Faulkner of Worcester on 07785 261785.