HL Deb 07 April 1964 vol 257 cc20-1

3.24 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, Section 381 of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892, contains an astonishing miscellany of offences which can be committed in a burgh in Scotland. There are 53 in all, and each makes the person committing it liable to a penalty not exceeding 40s. I recommend to your Lordships to read some of the things which were in those days considered an offence in a burgh in Scotland, but the particular one with which the House is concerned this afternoon comes in paragraph (36). This makes it an offence for any person to throw or lay … any dirt, litter, or ashes or nightsoil, or any carrion, fish, offal, or rubbish, on any street, back area, court, except for the purpose of immediate removal, or on any place, or strand and sea beach, down to low-water mark, or into the channel or on the banks of any river or into any harbour within the burgh, or causes or allows any such matter, solid or liquid, to fall or run on any street, or lays down salt on any street, or footpath in time of snow". It goes on: … it shall not be deemed an offence to lay sand or other materials in any street in time of frost to prevent accidents, or litter or other suitable materials to prevent the freezing of water in pipes, or in case of sickness to prevent noise, if the person laying any such things causes them to be removed as soon as the occasion for them ceases. It is the bit about salt with which this Bill is concerned. It is an astonishing thing, but whereas in the landward areas in Scotland there is no reason at all why anybody, be it a highway authority or private person, should not put down salt on the road in order to prevent snow or ice from lying there, in a burgh it is illegal to do so.

In the winter before this one almost all the burghs in Scotland were forced to use the modern methods of preventing snow and ice from forming on the streets by putting down the usual mixture of salt and sand. Whether this is any good for underneath one's motor car is another matter, but at least it has a great deal of use in the prevention of accidents. Various of the local authorities themselves and the Convention of Royal Burghs have asked that this curious anomaly in the law should be put right; although, as a matter of fact, there has never been any prosecution on record under the provisions of the 1892 Act, which I have quoted. This Bill was piloted through another place by my honourable friend, the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles. I feel that it is entirely uncontroversial and entirely up to date. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.