Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Twenty-Sixth Report



Supplementary Memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


1. The Countryside and Rights of Way Bill was brought from the House of Commons on 16 June 2000. The Department submitted its memorandum on the delegated legislative powers under the Bill to the Committee on 26 June. The Committee reported on the Bill on 4 July in its 24th Report.

2. This supplementary memorandum identifies one additional provision for delegated legislation in Part I of the Bill which the Government has tabled since the Committee reported. The Bill is due to commence Committee Stage in the House of Lords on 20 July.

New Clause (References to Public Places in Existing Enactments)

3. There are a large number of statutory provisions which regulate conduct in public places, that is places to which the public have a right of access or to which the public in practice have access. The new statutory right of access to open country and registered common land will mean that much land to which such provisions did not apply will in future be subject to those provisions.

4. It is likely that it will be appropriate for many of these provisions to apply to access land under Part I of the Bill as they apply to other land to which the public have a right of access, in which case no further action need be taken. However, it is also likely that some of the provisions may need to be modified in the way in which they affect access land or they may even need to be disapplied altogether. For example, section 19 of the Firearms Act 1968 provides that it is an offence for a person without lawful authority or reasonable excuse to have a loaded shot gun or loaded air weapon, or any other firearm (whether loaded or not) together with suitable ammunition, in a public place. A public place is defined in section 57 of the 1968 Act as including any highway and any other premises or place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise. While the application of this offence to users of the new statutory right of access would be desirable, it may be considered appropriate to disapply the provision in the case of the owner or occupier of the land so that he is not required to show to the courts lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

5. The new clause will enable the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales to make regulations to modify the effect that a provision applying to public places would otherwise have in respect of access land, including if necessary preventing altogether such a provision from applying to access land. Detailed consideration of the various statutory provisions will be required. The delegated power will enable such provisions to be kept under review and modifications made if experience shows this to be necessary. The negative resolution procedure is considered to be the appropriate level of parliamentary scrutiny given the limited purpose of the power.

10 July 2000

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