Littering from Vehicles Bill

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Peers debated the Littering from Vehicles Bill at second reading on 19 July 2013.

This private members' bill, introduced by Conservative peer Lord Marlesford, would introduce a civil penalty for littering from vehicles. The bill applies to England only.

Lord Marlesford told the House: "We English are, to our shame, an appallingly messy nation."

There are currently criminal sanctions for littering but it is difficult to prove who threw the litter from a moving car, he argued.

Lord Marlesford said his bill would make the owners of vehicles the recipients of any civil penalty and therefore responsible for any rubbish thrown from their vehicles.

He hoped the measure would bring about a "behaviour change" and cut costs for local authorities.

Fellow Conservative Lord Selsdon made the surprising claim that he used his contacts at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to trace the details of motorists he spotted throwing rubbish out of cars and obtain their phone numbers so he could call them.

Lord Selsdon's actions appear to be in breach of data protection laws which require bodies such as the DVLA to keep personal information secure.

Labour environment spokesman Lord Knight agreed that there was a need for a "culture change" and gave his support to the bill.

Government spokesman Lord de Mauley agreed that "roadside litter is a blight on some areas of England" but argued that action against it "should be based on sound evidence".

He said there were already criminal sanctions for littering with fixed penalties, and argued that "decriminalisation" or moving to a civil offence could "send the wrong message".

The bill now moves to committee stage but is unlikely to become law without government support.

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