Clause 44 - Forfeiture of vehicles

Part of Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:00 am ar 25 Ionawr 2005.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour/Co-operative, Stroud 11:00, 25 Ionawr 2005

May I start by saying what a delight it is to serve under your firm but fair chairmanship, Mr. Taylor? I shall not delay the Committee long, but I intervened on this point earlier in our proceedings and I want to reinforce it by saying that according to Colin Peake, the antisocial behaviour officer of Stroud district council, my local authority, this is the single most important element of the Bill. Colin tells me that what he finds most galling is that, although serial offenders know that they may be forced to pick up the waste and may suffer a fine, the one thing that they always get away with is the means whereby they were able to commit the offence. They keep their vehicle and can do it again.

As the hon. Member for Ribble Valley said, it could be a first-time offender, someone just taking something out of their car boot, but I would expect everyone to consider the circumstances and proportionality. The person could have taken a number of car batteries or tyres out of the back of their car. As we all know, it is a devil of a job to get rid of those items. They are hazardous waste according to every definition, so we should feel no sympathy. We should back those who try to enforce the clause, if it is passed. Linking it to clause 46, which makes a great deal of sense, we will want the authorities to be somewhat proactive. I hope that, if materials have been dumped and they know that a vehicle in the vicinity has been seen there before, there will be an opportunity to link the measures. I know that I am looking ahead from this clause to the next one, but they are inextricably linked.

I hope that we will hold the line and send a clear message that the one thing that will really hurt those who offend is taking away their vehicle. People think that they can get away with offences, whatever the level   of the fines. Often, the offenders are people in the industry who think that it is a good way to save a bob or two. As I said, the one thing that will really penalise offenders is taking away their vehicle. I therefore congratulate the Government on the clause. They are absolutely right. From what I have been told, all the evidence from the people who are trying to enforce offences is that this clause will make the difference, so let us see it through as quickly as possible.