The boss of a Preston recycling company has pleaded with MPs not to derail a bid to clampdown on metal thieves.
Alasdair Jackson, operations director at Recycling Lives, said the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill would close loopholes which allow rogue dealers to operate in the industry.
But the legislation, being introduced by a backbench MP rather than the Government, could be blocked today if MPs opposed to new restrictions make long-winded speeches to talk out the Bill.
The proposed changes have the backing of the Royal British Legion, which has seen war memorials be desecrated by thieves stealing scrap metal, industries who have suffered as a result of cable theft and arts institutions eager to prevent valuable sculptures being stolen.
Mr Jackson said: “These changes need to happen because it would deliver a level playing field across the industry and get rid of those unscrupulous dealers which sadly still operate.
“The key thing is about enforcement, there is no point in having these changes if you are not going to enforce them.
“This could be one thing which makes a real difference in the fight against metal theft which would be welcomed across the industry.”
The Government has already announced a ban on cash payments in most parts of the industry, but MP Richard Ottaway, who has put forward the changes, said his Bill will close a loophole which meant “itinerant” scrap collectors were not covered.
Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne confirmed the Government’s support for the Bill, saying it will “build on the legislative action we have already taken by allowing the closure of unlicensed premises”.
Dozens of amendments to the Bill have been tabled by Tory MPs which could potentially prevent it from making progress.
Mr Ottaway said: “For too long the cash-in-hand and ‘no questions asked’ culture in the scrap metal industry has allowed criminals to ply their trade under the cloak of anonymity.
“As a result of this largely unregulated £5.6 billion industry - up to £1.5bn of which thrives tax-free because of a lack of honest record keeping - our infrastructure is under constant threat.”