House of Commons
Session 2003 - 04|
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Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)
|Highways (Obstruction By Body Corporate) Bill|
THESE NOTES REFER TO THE HIGHWAYS (OBSTRUCTION BY BODY CORPORATE) BILL AS INTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON 7 JANUARY 2004 [BILL 30]
HIGHWAYS (OBSTRUCTION BY BODY CORPORATE) BILL
1. These explanatory notes relate to the Highways (Obstruction by Body Corporate) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 7 January 2004. They have been prepared by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with the consent of Michael Jabez Foster, the Member in charge of the Bill, in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.
SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND
3. Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 makes it an offence for a person, without lawful authority, to wilfully obstruct a highway. A 'person' includes a body corporate. If a person is convicted of such an offence and it appears to the magistrates that the obstruction is continuing and that it is within the power of that person to remove it, the magistrates may make an order under section 137ZA (1) of the 1980 Act requiring that person to remove the obstruction. If the person fails to comply with the order, he is guilty of an offence under section 137ZA(3) of the 1980 Act and liable to a fine. The maximum fine is level 5 on the standard scale, which is currently £5000.
4. Section 314 of the 1980 Act provides that a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of a body corporate that has committed particular offences under the 1980 Act will also be guilty of those offences if it can be proved that the offence was committed with the consent or connivance of that officer or is attributable to the neglect of the officer.
5. The purpose of the Bill is to apply section 314 to offences under sections 137 (wilfully obstructing a highway) and 137ZA (failing to comply with an order to remove an obstruction).
[Bill 30EN] 53/3
Clause 1: Liability of officers etc. for obstruction by body corporate
6. Subsection (1) amends section 314 so that that section applies to offences under sections 137 and 137ZA.
7. The amendment of section 314 applies only in relation to offences committed after the commencement of the Bill. In the absence of express provision there might be a question as to whether section 314 applies in respect of an offence under section 137ZA where the order to which the offence relates was made before commencement of the Bill. Subsection (2) provides that section 314 will apply to such an offence.
ESTIMATE OF PUBLIC SECTOR FINANCIAL EFFECTS AND PUBLIC SECTOR MANPOWER ASPECTS
8. The Bill does not entail any additional public expenditure or changes to public service manpower.
REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
9. A copy of the full Regulatory Impact Assessment of the costs and benefits that this bill would have is available to the public by contacting William Propert-Lewis, Zone 1/01, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, BRISTOL BS1 6EB, email: William.Propert-Lewis@defra.gsi.gov.uk, telephone 0117 372 8379.
10. In general, the changes will not adversely affect charities, voluntary organisations or business. The need to prosecute a corporate body alleged to have wilfully obstructed a right of way is infrequent. The benefit of the bill would be to further minimise the opportunities for landowners to evade prosecution for wilfully obstructing rights of way. No impact on small business has been identified.
TERRITORIAL EXTENT AND APPLICATION
11. The Highways Act 1980, which the Bill amends, extends to England and Wales only. Accordingly the Bill extends to England and Wales only. The Bill's effect in Wales is the same as in England. It contains no provisions which relate exclusively to Wales, or affect the National Assembly for Wales.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2004||Prepared: 4 February 2004|