Microbeads (Prohibition) Bill 2019: Committee Stage

SECTION 1

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, to delete lines 24 to 26 and substitute the following:

“ “microbead” means a solid plastic particle that is-

(a) not water soluble,

(b) not more than 5 millimetres at its widest point, and

(c) not less than one nanometre at its narrowest point;”.

We had a good debate on Second Stage, where we went through a lot of technical aspects of the Bill, which we have now sought to address following our engagement with the European Commission and everybody else. We have gone through the standstill period and that standstill period has been successful, so there is nothing standing in the way of our passing this legislation as quickly as possible. We have made a couple of minor technical amendments based on that interaction with the EU. Everything is still in line in terms of the intended direction for this legislation.

The first amendment is on the size and range of the plastic microbead to be restricted and it is to more closely align the Bill with the proposed forthcoming EU REACH regulations, which will restrict the intentional addition of microplastics to products. Members may remember that, on Second Stage, I said that, with our microbeads Bill, we were going further than the EU. This is to make sure that, when the EU catches up with us, we will all be in the same place. The amendment is a slight tweaking of the position.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 2

Amendments Nos. 2 to 4, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, to delete line 23 and substitute the following:

“(b) contains microbeads in excess of the permitted concentration.”.

This is in line with what the REACH proposals intend to get to in the future. It is to make sure that we allow for a very small allowance for microbeads that might unintentionally make their way into a product, so we have put in a limit of 0.01%. To give an example, it is possible that food in a plastic container might have a tiny trace of microbeads, which might be unavoidable. The legislation intends to capture people who intentionally put microbeads in products. While it may happen accidentally, if it does, it is only allowed to 0.01% of the weight of the product. That is the change being made here.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 4, to delete line 26 and substitute the following:

“(b) contains microbeads in excess of the permitted concentration.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 4, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:

“(5) In this section “permitted concentration” means, in relation to a cosmetic product or cleaning product containing microbeads, a concentration of microbeads that does not result in the aggregate weight of the microbeads in the product exceeding 0.01 per cent of the weight of the product.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 3 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 7

Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 9, to delete line 39 and substitute the following:

“7. (1) A person guilty of an offence under this Act (other than an offence under subsection (5) of section 5) shall be liable—”.

The amendments follows advice from the Parliamentary Counsel. It is around the different fines and offences under the Bill. There is a difference between a summary conviction and a conviction on indictment and we want to bring the legislation in line with most other legislation in terms of the severity being escalated for conviction on indictment and reduced for a summary conviction. The amendments bring us into line in that way.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 10, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:

“(2) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (5) of section 5 shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 7, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 8 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.