§ 2.35 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government if they will state the obligations of local authorities seized with responsibility for common lands (other than woodlands) to keep such lands reasonably free from noxious weeds whose seed when neglected can be freely dispersed over neighbouring lands.]
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD (EARL WALDEGRAVE)
My Lords, I know of no statutory obligation on any occupier of land to keep it free from weeds, unless my right honourable friend has served a notice on him under the Weeds Act, 2 1959, which relates only to five specified weeds. A local planning authority has power to serve a notice under Section 33 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, to require the abating of a serious injury to amenity. However, there are complicated legal problems involved, and perhaps the noble Lord would send me details of any case that may be causing him concern.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his reply—I recognise the complexity of the position—and also for his courtesy in telling me in advance of the limited reply which he could give. With regard to the Report of the Royal Commission on Common Lands, I would ask a supplementary question of which I have given the noble Earl notice. Since a good deal of time has passed since the Report was published is he able to give any indication when he may expect some legislation arising out of that Report?
My Lords, I am afraid that I am not yet in a position to make a statement on the Government's proposals. As noble Lords know, the law relating to commons is extremely complex and obscure, and we are considering very carefully the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
§ LORD LATHAM
Would the noble Earl not agree that the whole problem of the commons is overgrown with weeds?