MEASURES to ‘stamp out’ metal theft with bigger fines for rogue traders and stronger police rights of entry to scrapyards will come into force next month.

The crackdown has been welcomed by Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Graham Jones who said the crime had plagued East Lancashire.

In 2011-2102 there were 2,400 metal thefts across the region, including gas pipes and window frames in Burnley, power line cables in the Ribble Valley and lead from church roofs.

The Labour backbencher said he was delighted at the new government measures to combat the menace as well as news that a backbench bill clamping down on the offence had passed a major Parlia-mentary hurdle. Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne said the new laws designed to stop rogue traders would come into force on 3 December.

They will ban dealers from buying scrap metal from traders in cash and judges will be able to hand metal thieves increased financial penalties.

Police will also have greater powers of entry to tackle scrap dealers who do not comply with regulations.

A private members bill tabled by Tory MP Richard Ottaway regulating the scrap metal trade last week also got its Third Reading the Commons despite efforts by some of his party colleagues to sidetrack it.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill aims to reform the industry and tackle what Mr Ottaway calls ‘outdated legislation’ from 1964. It is now likely to become law next year after consideration by the House of Lords.

Mr Jones said: “Between these measures, we will get 95 per cent of what I have been campaigning for. This is good news.”