The Private Members Bill was introduced by Mr Ben Bradshaw MP and was sponsored in the House of Lords by Lord Stone of Blackheath.
Food Safety Minister, Jeff Rooker said:
"The Government welcomes this legislation which Ben Bradshaw and Lord Stone guided so successfully through Parliament. The UK already has a strong system for the regulatory control of pesticides and the Pesticides Act will enhance those arrangements. The Act is a positive step forward in the Government's commitment to making as much information as possible on pesticides available to the public. I have instructed my officials to give priority to the introduction of regulations to improve access to information."
The Pesticides Act, which amends the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (FEPA), will enable Ministers to provide the public with information on all pesticides. Previously, Ministers were only able to provide the public with information on those chemicals approved or reviewed since the introduction of statutory controls in 1986. A consultation on the introduction of regulations to provide more access to information will begin as soon as possible.
The Act will also give local authorities powers to seize and dispose of pesticides and makes improvements to the enforcement provisions of FEPA. It will allow enforcement officers to withdraw and re-issue enforcement notices; to question witnesses believed to have information that will assist in an investigation; and to photograph evidence where necessary. The enforcement provisions of the Act will come into force in September 1998.
Changes to the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986, as amended (COPR) are needed to give effect to the new powers to disclose information on older pesticides and to facilitate the seizure and disposal of pesticides by local authorities.
The current secondary legislation on pesticides only permits Ministers to disclose information on pesticides approved or reviewed since their introduction. The regulations do not allow the disclosure of any information on pesticides cleared under the two voluntary schemes - the Pesticides Safety Precautions Scheme (PSPS) and the Agricultural Chemicals Approvals Scheme (ACAS) - which preceded the statutory controls. The new Act will allow the Government to fill this gap in the system.
The Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 imposes certain prohibitions and conditions on activities involving pesticides. These prohibitions and conditions are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities and agricultural departments. The provision in the Pesticides Act for regulations to allow local authorities to seize and dispose of pesticides corrects an anomaly created when the Pesticides (Fees and Enforcement) Act 1989 extended enforcement powers to local authorities but not the powers to seize and dispose.