Carrier Bags Bill passes its final stage in the Assembly

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The Carrier Bags Bill passed its final stage in the Assembly, on 10 March 2014.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan explained that the bill extended the carrier bags levy to include reusable bags with a retail cost of up to 20 pence.

He said that since the introduction of the levy for disposable bags there had been an increase in the sales of cheaper reusable bags.

The minister said he did not want to see cheaper reusable bags "becoming the new disposable bag".

Referring to arguments put forward by members during the passage of the bill calling for the exclusion of paper bags, Mr Durkan said paper bags were already subject to the levy under the original legislation.

Anna Lo of Alliance, who chairs the Environment Committee, said that members had been concerned that the original proposal to introduce the extended levy from April 2014 was too soon.

This had been addressed by an amendment that postponed the introduction until January 2015 to allow for a public information campaign.

The DUP's Pam Cameron said she supported the bill as "an example of good devolved government".

Sinn Fein's Cathal Boylan also supported the bill and said a good communications strategy was now needed to prepare the public for the change.

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott said he did not think the passage of the bill was the end of this kind of legislation.

"I do see much more coming this way," he said.

The bill was passed on a cross-community vote.

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