A GLASGOW minister has welcomed proposals for tighter measures to tackle metal theft.

Reverend Andrew Richard-son, whose church in Baillies-ton was hit six times by thieves in 2011, said the move by the Scottish Government would be "very important" in trying to combat the crime.

The government launched a consultation this week which will seek views on introducing a tougher licensing regime and banning cash payments for metal.

The move, which follows an initial consultation last year, will focus on what conditions dealers should face under a new licensing regime, with all dealers licensed, and the question of cash payments for metal.

Minister at St John's Episcopal Church Reverend Richardson, 38, said: "I very much welcome the consult-ation and I think it is a good idea, it is well timed and I am sure it will be welcomed by many agencies."

As reported in the Evening Times in October 2011, a spate of metal thefts targeting lead on the roofs of churches prompted Glasgow MSP John Mason to write to the Scottish Government asking for a change in the law on the sale of scrap metal for cash.

The report told how crooks had stolen lead from the roof of St John's Episcopal Church on six occasions leaving the church no longer watertight and sodden with water.

At the time Reverend Richardson said the damage, which cost £6500 to repair, had left the church so cold and damp that it was likely to be inhospitable for elderly people during the winter.

Since then, the church has replaced all the lead in the roof with a product which does not have a scrap value.

In 2011, John Mason, SNP MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, brought the matter up with his colleagues at Holyrood.

He said: "Metal theft is a big problem, so I am delighted to see the Government is heeding our calls for action and pressing forward with the consultation."

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who unveiled the consultation, said: "We will take tough steps through legislation."

Police Scotland's Super-intendent Matt Richards said officers take metal theft "extremely seriously".