Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

London Local Authorities (Shopping Bags) Bill

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

PART 1

PRELIMINARY

Interpretation

Clause 1 deals with citation and commencement. It provides that the main operative provisions of the Bill should come into operation on a day or on days to be appointed by London Councils. London Councils is a statutory joint committee comprising members from each of the 33 London borough councils (including the Corporation of London). The detailed procedure which must be followed by London Councils when appointing a day for the commencement of the provisions of the Bill are contained in Clause 3.

Clause 2 sets out definitions of certain expressions used in the Bill including "shopping bag" which is defined as a bag supplied by a retailer and which has the primary purpose of carrying items purchased from that retailer on the occasion on which the bag is so supplied.

PART 2

THE PROHIBITION

Clause 4 makes provision for the prohibition. The prohibition will be imposed on the provision of shopping bags by retailers to customers, other than bags exempted under Clause 5.

Clause 5 describes the types of bag which are exempt from the prohibition. Subsection (1) sets out a list of types of bag which are exempt from the prohibition. They are as follows—

small bags used to contain any unpackaged food for human or animal consumption;
bags used for packaging any goods and sealed before the goods are offered for retail sale or supply;
bags sold in the ordinary course of trade for use by the customer away from the premises at which they are sold;
bags provided to the customer for the transmission of goods to the retailer;
bags designed to be used for the disposal of waste;
bags used to contain goods sold on board a ship, aircraft, train or bus used for carrying passengers.

Subsection (2) provides a definition of "small bag".

Subsection (3) enables London Councils to pass resolutions adding or removing any category of bags from the list of exempt bags and make other alterations to the descriptions of the exemptions in the list.

PART 3

ENFORCEMENT

Clause 6 is, by virtue of subsection (1) a penalty charge provision for the purposes of section 61 of the London Local Authorities Act 2007, meaning that the detailed penalty charge procedures set out in Part 4 of the 2007 Act will apply in relation to penalty charges for the contravention of the prohibition.

The effect of applying provisions of Part 4 of the 2007 Act in this way will be that councils will also be able to serve a penalty charge notice on the person who is suspected of contravening the prohibition, or causing it to be contravened. That person then has a period of 28 days in which to pay the penalty charge (the amount of which will be reduced if he pays within 14 days). The recipient is also able to make representations to the council in respect of the penalty charge and if those representations are rejected, there is a right of appeal to an independent adjudicator. All of these general provisions are set out in Part 4 of the 2007 Act. If after the appeals process is exhausted, or if no appeal is made at all and payment is still not received by the council, then provision is made in the 2007 Act enabling the council to take enforcement action through the County Court.

The grounds on which representations can be made against a penalty charge notice are specified in subsection (5). They are that there was no contravention, that somebody else was responsible for the contravention or that the penalty charge exceeded the proper amount.

Clause 7 deals with authorised officers and their functions under the Bill. The clause introduces the Schedule to the Bill which sets out a number of detailed provisions relating to the functions of authorised officers.

Under the Schedule, authorised officers have the following powers—

they may require retailers and employees of retailers to produce records and documents;
they may require retailers and employees of retailers to give assistance information and explanations about their dealings with shopping bags;
they can enter premises in which they reasonably believe there to be shopping bags held for provision to customers, or records relating to such bags, and they may carry out searches and investigations, and remove and retain records and documents kept for the purposes of the Act.

The powers of authorised officers are to be exercised only for the purpose of ascertaining whether a person is complying with the Act, or of preparing a penalty charge notice for non-compliance, and an authorised officer must produce written evidence of his authority if required to do so. An authorised officer must give at least 24 hours notice of his intention to use any power, unless he has first obtained a warrant, and if he is to use reasonable force in exercising his powers of entry, then a warrant must be obtained.

A justice of the peace may grant a warrant for the exercise of any power of entry under the Schedule if satisfied by evidence on oath that there are reasonable grounds for the exercise of the power in relation to the specified premises and that any of the following conditions is satisfied—

that the exercise of the power in relation to the premises has been refused;
that such refusal is reasonably anticipated;
that the premises are unoccupied;
that the occupier is temporarily absent from the premises; or
that a notice of intention to exercise the power in relation to the premises would defeat the object of the exercise of the power.

In cases where it is anticipated that refusal of entry will happen, or where refusal of entry has already happened, the justice of the peace must also be satisfied that notice of intention to apply for the warrant was given to the occupier of the premises or that the giving of such notice would have defeated the object of the exercise. An authorised officer who exercises powers of entry must leave the premises in as secure a condition as they were before they were entered, and there are provisions ensuring that authorised officers must provide receipts for any records or documents removed, and other protective provisions.

Clause 8 makes provision for the offence of obstructing authorised officers in exercise of their powers under the Act, failing to comply with their requirements, and providing false information. A person found guilty of an offence under Clause 8 is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 (£1,000) on the standard scale except in cases of providing false information in which case the maximum fine is level 5 (£5,000).

Clause 9 makes provision about liability of directors for offences committed by bodies corporate under Clause 8. It makes provision in certain circumstances for the director, manager, secretary or other officers to be found liable for offences committed by such bodies.

EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

In the view of the Westminster City Council the provisions of the London Local Authorities (Shopping Bags) Bill are compatible with the Convention Rights.


 
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Prepared 1 December 2007