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Snow and Ice Clearing

Volume 504: debated on Thursday 21 January 2010

18. What discussions she has had with the Crown Prosecution Service on whether householders may be prosecuted in relation to snow and ice clearing activities which lead to the injury of another. (312124)

The short answer to the hon. Gentleman—I hope that he will not take it badly if I put it briefly, and I know that you will not, Mr. Speaker—is that there have been no discussions about prosecuting people for clearing snow and ice.

I appreciate that the Solicitor-General might have been trying to clarify the fact that clearing is not subject to criminal action, and if that was what she intended to say, I am grateful to her. However, she will be aware of the considerable concern among householders in recent weeks that they are potentially liable to prosecution either from local authorities or in civil cases. It would be helpful if she could get clarification from colleagues, perhaps in the Ministry of Justice, that that is not likely to occur.

When I saw that the hon. Gentleman’s question was about prosecution, which is our responsibility as Law Officers, I sent back to the Crown Prosecution Service to ask it to scour the four corners of jurisprudence to look for anything that looked like a possible prosecution for snow clearing with some bad effect, but we could not find anything, whether relating to local authorities or anything else. Between us, the hon. Gentleman and I can probably rule out prosecution for clearing snow. Civil liability is a different thing. It looks very remote to me, but I am not going to give free legal advice.