I believe it is important to crack down on all those involved in metal theft, including rogue scrap yard operators who fuel the crime. That is why we are working collectively across Government to take a range of enforcement and legislative measures that will make stolen metal too hot to handle.
Does the Secretary of State share my view that scrap yards that knowingly facilitate this crime are just as responsible as those that actually commit the theft? In line with that, will she make sure that this important clampdown is pursued with vigour, as urged by the widely supported all-party parliamentary group on combating metal theft?
I commend my hon. Friend, who made an excellent speech on this subject on 7 February. Like me, he comes from the west midlands, which is badly affected. Let me reassure him that we will certainly pursue this matter with vigour. I support the ban on cash payments for the purchase of scrap metal and, indeed, the increase in penalties under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, which will provide the police with greater powers to enter illegal sites as well as registered sites.
16. While the popularity of metal theft does not seem to have extended itself to removing that dreadful lot of junk on College green called “cutting edges”, will my right hon. Friend tell us what the Government are doing to streamline overlapping measures to deal with the scrap metal business? (97390)
I am disturbed to hear that there was any threat to Henry Moore’s beautiful sculpture on College green—that is news to me—but it reminds us of the dreadful depths to which these criminals have sunk in removing metal from statues and, particularly, from war memorials, which has brought misery. Yes, as part of this clampdown on metal theft, we will streamline regulations. From April, for example, the Environment Agency will consider convictions linked with metal theft alongside other criteria when scrutinising the applications for an environmental permit to run a scrap metal yard.