HC Deb 24 July 1950 vol 478 cc150-2

"A.—(1) So much of section seventy-two of the Highway Act, 1835, as relates to the causing of injury or damage to highways and to the wilful destruction or injury of the surface of highways shall apply to any cattle-grid provided in pursuance of this Act, any gate or other works on a road for use in connection with such a cattle-grid, and any gate or other works for the proper control of traffic passing over a by-pass for use in connection with such a cattle-grid, as it applies to a highway. (2) Section fifty-four of the Road Traffic Act, 1930 (which enables a highway authority to recover from persons responsible for extraordinary traffic certain expenses incurred by the authority in repairing a road) shall have effect, in relation to any road to which that section applies, as if the references therein to expenses incurred by the highway authority in repairing the road included references to expenses incurred by the appropriate authority in repairing a cattle-grid provided for the road in pursuance of this Act. (3) Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed as affecting the application of the said section seventy-two and fifty-four to a by-pass. (4) This section shall apply to Scotland with the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (1) thereof—

  1. '(1) So much of section ninety-six of the Act of the first and second year of King William the Fourth chapter forty-three (as incorporated in the Roads and Bridges (Scotland) Act, 1878) as relates to the doing, or causing to be done, of any injury or damage to the footpaths or causeways therein mentioned shall apply to any cattle-grid provided in pursuance of this Act, any gate or other works on a road for use in connection with such a cattle-grid, and any gate or other works for the proper control of traffic passing over a by-pass for use in connection with such a cattle-grid, as it applies to any such footpath or causeway.';
and with the substitution in subsection (3) thereof for the words 'seventy-two' of the words 'ninety-six'.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

9.40 p.m.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)

This Clause was inserted in another place and was not considered in this House at all. I see that it brings into play Section LXXII of the Highway Act of 1835 and I am sure it is very gratifying to find that the appalling penalty of 40s. applies to a person who damages cattle-grids as well as to one who damages highways and even to those who shall play at Foothball or any other Game in any Part of the said Highways to the Annoyance of any Passenger or Passengers; or if any Hawker, Higgler, Gipsy, or any other Person travelling shall pitch any Tent, Booth, Stall, or Strand, or encamp, upon any Part of any Highway;"— presumably that also applies to cattle grids— or if any Person shall make or assist in making any Fire, or shall wantonly fire off any Gun or Pistol or shall set fire to or wantonly let off or throw any Squib, Rocket, Serpent"— what is a serpent?— or other Firework whatsoever, within Fifty Feet of the Centre of such Carriageway or such Cartway; I am sure it is very satisfactory to know that these ancient privileges apply to this new cattle-grid to which many of us paid such attention when the Bill was before us.

There is also a more serious point. In another place doubt was expressed about whether a cattle-grid installed upon a byroad which was not considered capable of bearing very heavy vehicles ought to have some sort of warning notice assigned to it. I think the right hon. Gentleman should give some assurance that in a case where a cattle-grid is installed on such a by-road, there will not only be the usual statutory notice where the by-road begins, and where it leaves the main road, to the effect that such a road cannot stand a heavy vehicle like a tank or a tank-transporter or a large lorry, but that there should also be, where the cattle-grid is actually approached—as in the case often of a small bridge—a notice to say that that grid cannot stand the weight of the traffic which may be called upon to pass over it. In the same way as a bridge, although a cattle-grid will be built to bear the normal traffic which the road will bear, it should carry such a notice.

Clearly a situation might arise in which the driver of a heavy vehicle—or perhaps the military driver of a tank—in order to get to some field of operation or training, would ignore the notice on the by-road which said that the road would not stand the weight of vehicle. He might make a guess at it and say, "We may do a little damage, but the damage cannot be more serious than simply breaking through the crust of the road." If, however, he has to pass over a cattle-grid which has been constructed to carry the same weight of traffic as the road, then the vehicle will crash through, great damage will be done and there will immediately arise the question, who is liable? I should be most grateful if the Minister would indicate that a second notice will be placed, in the same way as for a small bridge, saying that traffic over a certain weight cannot be borne by such a bridge or, in this case, by such a grid.

9.45 p.m.

The Minister of Transport (Mr. Barnes)

This Clause covers the serious point of the noble Lord's comment and has been inserted at the request of the County Councils Association. In the first subsection, dealing with Section LXXII of the Highway Act of 1835, the cattle-grid is classified as part of the highway. Under the 1835 Act, if any person wilfully damages the highway, then, by summary proceeding, the highway authority can recover the cost and impose a fine. It was considered by the County Councils Association that they should have the protection with regard to the cattle-grids.

It is Section 54 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, that covers the problem of damage by any heavy vehicle. That again has been inserted to meet the request of the county councils; but, of course, under the provisions that we made in the consideration of the Bill in this House a by-pass also is part of the highway, and so subsection (3) of this new Clause expressly excludes the by-pass whilst applying this provision to the cattle-grids which will be actually on the highway. I think it is a perfectly reasonable Amendment. It is one which we had not foreseen, to which the county councils drew our attention. I think it is only right that they should have the necessary protection.

Question put, and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to [several with Special Entries].