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I welcome the comments by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O'Brien), about looking carefully at the provisions of the Bill if it is passed tonight. He is absolutely right about Project Radium, which, I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt), has consistently contributed to the reduction in burglaries and associated crimes in the Medway area. It has been operating on a voluntary basis, but it has rightly been pointed out that that is not enough, which is why we are debating the Bill today.
The records that are being sought are not substantially more than those that would be required under the good practice guidance notes of various associations, the requirements for VAT, and so on. As the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Fallon) recognised, we have caught the mood in terms of the requirements and the cash-up limits required for record-keeping. That provision was introduced purely to ensure that we eased the burdens on traders as much as possible, and to ensure that we continue to have a healthy operation in Kent.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey referred to removing antique dealers from the scope of the Bill. It is impossible to do that, and I hope that we covered that when we considered the amendments. Antique dealers trade not only in antiques but in many items, some of which--jewellery and watches, for example--have been identified by Kent police as items that are frequently stolen and traded.
Let me add, for the benefit of hon. Members who have expressed concern, that new clause 20, which was added in Committee, provides a requirement for the promoters and the police to report to the Secretary of State on the benefits or otherwise of the Bill, no more than three years after the appointed day.
The right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) referred to the burden of the regulatory effect of the Bill, and to the need to strike a balance between the interests of local businesses involved
The hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) referred to the process of funding the purchase of drugs, and suggested that drugs might lead to much of this type of crime. He is absolutely right. It is believed that when burglaries are committed to fund drug-related habits, the problem is not exported over the boundary into neighbouring counties, because people want to sell the stolen goods quickly in order to get the cash, and they are not going to travel to another county to do that.
We have had a substantial debate on Third Reading that has aired a number of concerns that are shared by all Members of the House. We shall watch closely the effects of the Bill, which I am pleased to support.
Amendment proposed: No. 16, in page 2, line 9, leave out,
'a newspaper circulating in the borough'
Amendment made: promoters amendment No. 1, in page 4, leave out line 5.--[Mr. Paul Clark.]
Amendments made: No. 26, in page 4, line 25, leave out 'three' and insert 'four'.
No. 27, in page 4, line 26, at end insert--
'(4) The council may not impose a charge for registration under this section'.--[Mr. Wyatt.]
Amendments made: promoters amendment No. 15, in page 4, line 32, leave out '(4)' and insert '(8)'.
Promoters amendment No. 3, in page 4, line 35, leave out 'his business' and insert--
'the business in respect of which he is registered'.--[Mr. Paul Clark.]
(a) £10 in the case of vehicle parts, jewellery, watches, photographic equipment, sports equipment, equestrian equipment, boating equipment, musical instruments, tools, bicycles, optical equipment, firearms and gardening equipment; and
(b) £50 in the case of all other articles to which that subsection applies;
or in either case, such other amount (being no lower than the existing amount) as the council may, with the approval of the Secretary of State, determine.'
Amendments made: promoters amendment No. 12, in page 6, line 33, leave out '(4), (8) or (9)' and insert '(5), (9) or (10).'
Promoters amendment No. 13, in page 7, line 6, leave out '(4)' and insert '(5)'.
Promoters amendment No. 14, in page 7, line 9, leave out '(4)' and insert '(5)'.--[Mr. Paul Clark.]
Promoters amendment No. 4, in page 7, line 31, at end insert--
'(e) a person engaged in business as a dealer in second-hand books, in respect of his business as such; or
(f) a person engaged in business as a dealer in animals, in respect of his business as such; or'.
Amendments made: No. 46, in page 10, line 44, leave out first 'business address' and insert--
'his business address or business telephone number'.
Amendment proposed: No. 54, in page 13, line 10, leave out from beginning to end of line 16.--[Mr. Wyatt.]
Mr. Wyatt: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We opposed the same idea when we were dealing with the Kent County Council Bill. May I withdraw the amendment, so that there need not be a Division?