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5.29 pm

Mr. Paul Clark: With the leave of the House, I shall respond to the debate on Third Reading.

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

22 Mar 2001 : Column 563

in this trade and helping and protecting residents. This is a question of balance, and we have taken steps to try to ease that burden.

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.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.

22 Mar 2001 : Column 564

Medway Council Bill [Lords] [By Order]

As amended, considered.

Clause 2

Appointed day


Amendment proposed: No. 16, in page 2, line 9, leave out,
'a newspaper circulating in the borough'

and insert--


5.34 pm

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): With this we may take the following amendments: No. 19, in page 2, line 14, leave out 'three' and insert 'six'.

No. 17, in page 2, line 18, after 'newspaper', insert


Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey): In view of the fact that our proceedings on this Bill will be a copy of what we have just done with the Kent County Council Bill, can we do it all formally, Mr. Deputy Speaker?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Yes, but we shall proceed gently.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 19, in page 2, line 14, leave out 'three' and insert 'six'.

No 17, in page 2, line 18, after 'newspaper', insert


Amendment made: No. 28, in page 4, line 35, leave out from 'business' to 'enter' in line 36.--[Mr. Wyatt.]

22 Mar 2001 : Column 565

Amendments made: promoters amendment No. 6, in page 5, line 27, leave out from 'than' to end of line 29 and insert--'the relevant amount'.

Promoters amendment No. 7, in page 5, line 33, at end insert--


Promoters amendment No. 8, in page 5, line 34, leave out '(7)' and insert '(8)'.

Promoters amendment No. 9, in page 6, line 1, leave out '(4)' and insert '(5)'.

Promoters amendment No. 10, in page 6, line 14, leave out '(4)' and insert '(5)'.

Promoters amendment No. 11, in page 6, line 15, leave out '(4)' and insert '(5)'.--[Mr. Paul Clark.]

Clause 7

Offences under part 2


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.]

Clause 8

Exemptions under part 2


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'.

--[Mr. Paul Clark.]

Clause 12

Information to be kept by holder of certain occasional sales


Amendments made: No. 46, in page 10, line 44, leave out first 'business address' and insert--
'his business address or business telephone number'.

No. 47, in page 10, line 44, leave out second 'business address' and insert--


No. 48, in page 11, line 6, leave out 'business address' and insert--


22 Mar 2001 : Column 566

Question put: That the amendment be made:--

The House proceeded to a Division.

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?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: We may get to that stage, but we shall have to ask for Tellers first.

Kali Mountford and Mr. Michael Howard were appointed Tellers for the Noes; but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Ayes, Mr. Deputy Speaker declared that the Noes had it.

Bill read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.


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