THE Senate passed the Scrap Metal Bill on Friday, a week after its passage by the House of Representatives.
The bill was subtitled, An Act to create measures to regulate the business of dealing in scrap metals and for other related matters.
Notes on the Parliament website saying it replaces the archaic Old Metal and Marine Stores Act, and addresses challenges, including criminal issues, now facing the industry.
In his wrap-up, Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, said the bill was a work in progress and promised to return to the Senate in due course to improve on it.
He reassured senators that the environment was an important lens through which to view this industry. More so, he said there exists now a draft bill on recycling.
Armour denied that the bill, even if passed by a simple majority, would violate any constitutional rights, citing a ruling by Baroness Hailes at the Privy Council in the TT case.
Recalling millions of dollars worth of metal stolen this year including thieves stealing people's home gates while threatening them to stay inside, the AG asked if there was anything unconstitutional in the bill allowing reasonable powers of inspection on people working as scrap dealers. "There is no question of any interference with rights."
He said the bill emulated the authorities' powers of entry to premises that already existed in gambling, cannabis and special economic zone legislation in TT.
Armour said such entry was reasonable and proportionate, as was the inspection of dealers' licences during work hours.
He said the legal concept of waiving one's rights to participate in an activity was well established in law.
Referring to inspectors entering scrap dealers' premises, the AG said that outside of this bill, the Criminal Law Act already allowed the reasonable use of force for the prevention of a crime. Armour said he had widely consulted. He said many clauses in the bill had actually been suggested by industry participants. These included having the trade ministry not the magistracy to issue licences, an annual licensing, dealers keeping daily records, powers of entry and inspection, and personal identification cards/documents for dealers.
The bill is expected to be assented to and proclaimed law by the President by December 31.