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House of Lords Hansard
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Offensive Weapons Bill
10 April 2019
Volume 797

Commons Amendments

Motion A

Moved by

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That this House do not insist on its Amendments 27 and 28, to which the Commons have disagreed, and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 27A to 27K in lieu.

27A: After Clause 17, page 18, line 10, at end insert the following new Clause—

“Delivery of bladed products to persons under 18

(1) This section applies if—

(a) a person (“the seller”) sells a bladed product to another person (“the buyer”),

(b) the seller and the buyer are not in each other’s presence at the time of the sale and the seller is within the United Kingdom at that time,

(c) before the sale, the seller entered into an arrangement with a person who is a body corporate by which the person agreed to deliver bladed products for the seller,

(d) that person was aware when they entered into the arrangement that it covered the delivery of bladed products, and

(e) that person delivers the bladed product to residential premises pursuant to that arrangement.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) a person (“A”) is not in the presence of another person (“B”) at any time if—

(a) where A is an individual, A or a person acting on behalf of A is not in the presence of B at that time;

(b) where A is not an individual, a person acting on behalf of A is not in the presence of B at that time.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) a person other than an individual is within the United Kingdom at any time if the person carries on a business of selling articles of any kind from premises in any part of the United Kingdom at that time.

(4) In subsection (1)(e) “residential premises” means premises used solely for residential purposes.

(5) The circumstances where premises are not residential premises for the purposes of subsection (1)(e) include, in particular, where a person carries on a business from the premises.

(6) The person mentioned in subsection (1)(e) commits an offence if, when they deliver the bladed product, they do not deliver it into the hands of a person aged 18 or over.

(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (6) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to a fine;

(b) on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.

(8) This section is subject to section 18 (defences).”

27B: Clause 18, page 18, line 14, at end insert—

“(1A) It is a defence for a person (“the seller”) charged with an offence under section 17(2) of delivering a bladed product to residential premises to prove that—

(a) at the time the offence is alleged to have been committed, the seller had procedures in place which were likely to ensure that any bladed product delivered by the seller to residential premises would be delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over, and

(b) the seller took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to ensure that the product to which the charge relates would be delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over.

(1B) It is a defence for a person (“the seller”) charged with an offence under section 17(2) of arranging for the delivery of a bladed product to residential premises to prove that—

(a) the arrangement required the person with whom it was made to have procedures in place which were likely to ensure that any bladed products delivered to residential premises pursuant to the arrangement would be delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over, and

(b) the seller took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to ensure that the product to which the charge relates would be delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over.”

27C: Clause 18, page 18, line 26, at end insert—

“(4A) It is a defence for a person charged in England and Wales or Northern Ireland with an offence under section (Delivery of bladed products to persons under 18) to prove that they took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.

(4B) It is a defence for a person (“the accused”) charged in Scotland with an offence under section (Delivery of bladed products to persons under 18) to show that—

(a) the accused believed the person into whose hands the bladed product was delivered to be aged 18 or over, and

(b) either the accused had taken reasonable steps to establish the person’s age or no reasonable person could have suspected from the person’s appearance that the person was under the age of 18.

(4C) For the purposes of subsection (4B)(b), the accused is to be treated as having taken reasonable steps to establish the person’s age if and only if—

(a) the accused was shown any of the documents mentioned in subsection (4D), and

(b) the document would have convinced a reasonable person.

(4D) Those documents are any document bearing to be— (a) a passport,

(b) a European Union photocard driving licence, or

(c) such other document, or a document of such other description, as the Scottish Ministers may prescribe by order.”

27D: Clause 18, page 18, line 29, leave out from “(6)” to “if” in line 30 and insert “A person is to be taken to have shown a matter for the purposes of subsection (4B) or (5)”

27E: Clause 18, page 18, line 35, leave out “the offence under section 17” and insert “an offence under section 17 or (Delivery of bladed products to persons under 18)”

27F: Clause 18, page 18, line 45, at end insert—

““residential premises” has the same meaning as in section 17.”

27G: Clause 19, page 19, line 7, leave out “and” and insert “to”

27H: Clause 19, page 19, line 12, leave out first “and” and insert “to”

27I: Clause 19, page 19, line 18, leave out “and” and insert “to”

27J: Clause 19, page 19, line 26, leave out “and” and insert “to”

27K: Clause 41, page 38, line 31, after “4(8)(c)” insert “, 18(4D)(c)”

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My Lords, the Commons amendments we are considering today follow on from debate on the Bill in this House at Third Reading in respect of the amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, for a trusted courier scheme. During that debate I set out the reasons why the Government could not support the proposition of a trusted courier scheme. In summary, I undertook that the Government would continue to reflect on the issue in respect of the delivery of bladed products in advance of the Bill going to, and returning from, the House of Commons. This we have now done and, accordingly, I trust that the amendment we have tabled in lieu, and that we are about to consider today, will have the support of noble Lords across this House.

We have given considerable consideration to the views expressed by Members in both Houses and business on the provisions relating to the sale of knives and the prohibitions on residential delivery throughout the passage of this Bill. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and to the Sheffield knife manufacturers for the time they spent in discussion with me on this matter. They and the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, were very helpful to me.

Following this further consideration, the Government have tabled Amendments 27A to 27K. These amendments allow a remote seller to deliver a bladed product to a residential premises by providing a defence where they have arrangements in place with a deliverer not to hand them over to a person under the age of 18 or, if the seller is delivering the item themselves, that the seller has procedures in place that are likely to ensure that any bladed product delivered to residential premises would be delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over. The seller must also have taken all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to ensure that the bladed product would be delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over.

The amendments also place a criminal liability, which is corporate and not individual, on the delivery company that enters into such an arrangement with a seller. The delivery company will commit an offence if it does not deliver the bladed product into the hands of a person aged over 18.

The amendment is similar in effect to the existing offence in the Bill on delivery companies relating to overseas sales, although this new offence is limited to bladed products—products that have a blade and are capable of causing serious injury by cutting the skin—and to deliveries to residential premises, whereas the measures in the Bill relating to overseas sales apply to deliveries to all premises and to all bladed articles, which are articles with a point or blade. For UK sales, the Bill already permits the delivery of bladed articles that do not meet the definition of a “bladed product” to residential premises. These amendments have addressed the concerns that have been raised by businesses within the UK.

The liability attaches only to delivery companies that enter into arrangements to deliver bladed products; a delivery company could simply choose not to do so. This new offence is subject to the defences set out in Clause 39 of the Bill. The amendments that we have made ensure that an individual’s age is verified at the point of delivery irrespective of whether the seller delivers themselves or uses an external delivery company. Should a seller decide not to enter into an arrangement with a delivery company, or put the necessary procedures in place to enable them to deliver bladed products themselves, the provisions in the Bill that prohibit delivery to residential premises of a bladed product will still apply: that is, the seller will not be able to send a bladed product to residential premises and the bladed product will still have to be collected in person at a collection point.

Amendments 62A and 63A are both consequential to Amendments 62 and 63, which already form part of the Bill as a result of Amendments 27A to 27K. Amendment 62A adds to Amendment 62 in the Bill the new offence of delivery of bladed products to persons under 18. Amendment 62 provides trading standards with a power to enforce various existing and new offences relating to the sale and delivery of bladed articles, offensive weapons and corrosive products. It also confers on trading standards investigatory powers under Schedule 5 to the Consumer Rights Act 2015—the CRA, as it is known—for the purpose of enforcing these offences.

Amendment 63A is another consequential amendment to Amendment 63 and is similar in purpose to Amendment 62A as it adds the new offence of delivery of bladed products to persons under 18. Amendment 63 in the Bill enables businesses to enter into partnerships with a local authority that will act as the primary authority for that business in relation to an area of regulation. This will enable the primary authority to provide advice and guidance on compliance to the business in areas of regulation covered by the partnership, on which the business can rely.

In summary, these amendments will ensure that bladed products can be delivered to residential premises, while at the same time addressing the risk that the product ends up in the hands of a person under 18 because the delivery company has not verified age or has simply pushed the bladed product through the letterbox. I again thank the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Paddick, and I hope that the House will feel able to support the amendments. I beg to move.

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My Lords, I am delighted to be able to support the Motions before the House today in the name of the Minister.

This is an issue that I raised at Second Reading and which I persisted with throughout the passage of the Bill through your Lordships’ House. As I have said many times before, I support the general aims of the Bill, but the proposals to prevent British businesses in all circumstances from selling and sending their knives and other bladed products to UK home addresses was just damaging to business while contributing nothing to dealing with the terrible incidences of knife crime.

I am grateful that the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, engaged so positively with me, the Members for Sheffield Central and Sheffield South East in the other place and representatives of the knife manufacturing industry, including James Goodwin and Alastair Fisher.

To get this concession, we had to win a vote here in the House of Lords, and I am grateful to noble Lords from my own Benches, the Liberal Democrat Benches, the Cross Benches and the Conservative Benches who supported my amendment. I am also grateful to those Conservative Peers who told me they were with me and then very kindly abstained on the vote. It all helped to show the other place that we had a lot of support for this sensible proposal, and it means we are able to support British businesses and the jobs they provide.

I am particularly grateful to my noble friends Lord Rosser and Lord Tunnicliffe, the noble Lords, Lord Paddick, Lord Scriven and Lord Lucas, and the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, as I am to the noble Baronesses, Lady Williams of Trafford and Lady Barran. That brings me to the end of my contributions on this Bill.

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My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister for explaining these amendments. I was going to say that, from the first day of this Bill, I pointed out that treating UK companies differently from overseas companies on delivery of bladed articles to residential premises was not sustainable. However, it was not on the first day but on the first day in Committee that I first raised the issue—and on the first day of Report and at Third Reading. Finally, the message has got through.

We supported the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, relating to the trusted courier scheme to ensure that the Government thought again about this issue. I am glad that, at last, they have agreed that it was not fair to say that overseas companies could deliver knives to residential premises but UK companies could not. These amendments address this issue and we therefore support them.

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My Lords, I have spoken on this before, so I just want to say how much I welcome the movement by the Government on this Bill. It is very sensible and will go a long way. I make only two little points.

First, it is a pity we do not treat all items in this way. This could be a template for the delivery to a home of any age-restricted items. They may be age-restricted at various different levels: for some, the age restriction is 16; for others, it is 18. We could have had a template in a law somewhere which could be used and referred to by all other Acts of Parliament which place an age restriction on goods. It is a good opportunity. From that point of view, it seems a bit funny that we have this provision for knives, but not corrosive liquids, but that is as it is. I do not think corrosive liquids are such a big problem, because they tend to be delivered to commercial premises, as they are not household goods on the whole. This is very much to be welcomed. I think it is a good start.

Secondly, I am not sure whether to feel sorry for the Scots. The defence in England is worded generally enough that it could cover electronic means if, for instance, they complied with the British standard specification PAS 1296. That would be a good defence in court that you had verified things properly. However, I see that in Scotland it has to be a document, and I do not know whether that includes something electronic or not. I am not worried about that at the moment; it is a point for the future. I am not quite sure whether the Scots are being a little old-fashioned about it.

Motion agreed.

Motion B

Moved by

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That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment 62A.

62: After Clause 39, insert the following new Clause—

“Enforcement of offences relating to sale etc of offensive weapons

(1) A local weights and measures authority may enforce within its area a provision listed in subsection (2).

(2) The provisions mentioned in subsection (1) are—

(a) section 1(1) of the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959 (penalties for offences in connection with dangerous weapons),

(b) section 1 of the Crossbows Act 1987 (sale etc of crossbows to persons under 18),

(c) section 141(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (offensive weapons), (d) section 141A of that Act (sale etc of bladed articles to persons under 18),

(e) section 1 of the Knives Act 1997 (unlawful marketing of knives),

(f) section 2 of that Act (publication of unlawful marketing material relating to knives),

(g) section 1 of this Act (sale of corrosive products to persons under 18), (h) section 3 of this Act (delivery of corrosive products to residential premises etc),

(i) section 4 of this Act (delivery of corrosive products to persons under 18),

(j) section 17 of this Act (delivery of bladed products to residential premises etc), and

(k) section 20 of this Act (delivery of bladed articles to persons under 18).

(3) For the investigatory powers available to a local weights and measures authority for the purposes of enforcing a provision listed in subsection (2), see Schedule 5 to the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

(4) Nothing in this section is to be construed as authorising a local weights and measures authority to bring proceedings in Scotland for an offence.

(5) In paragraph 10 of Schedule 5 to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (duties and powers to which Schedule 5 applies), at the appropriate place insert “section (Enforcement of offences relating to sale etc of offensive weapons) of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019.””

Commons Agreement and Amendment to the Lords Amendment

The Commons agree with the Lords in their Amendment 62 and propose Amendment 62A as an amendment thereto

62A: Line 22, after “etc),” insert—

“(ja) section (Delivery of bladed products to persons under 18) of this Act (delivery of bladed products to persons under 18),”

Motion agreed.

Motion C

Moved by

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That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment 63A.

63: After Clause 39, insert the following new Clause—

Application of Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008

In Schedule 3 to the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 (relevant enactments for the purposes of relevant functions to which Parts 1 and 2 of that Act apply) at the appropriate places insert—

“Criminal Justice Act 1988, sections 141(1) and 141A”;

“Offensive Weapons Act 2019, sections 1, 3, 4, 17 and 20”; “Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959, section 1(1)”.”

Commons Agreement and Amendment to the Lords Amendment

The Commons agree with the Lords in their Amendment 63 and propose Amendment 63A as an amendment thereto

63A: Line 7, after “17” insert “, (Delivery of bladed products to persons under 18)”

Motion agreed.