Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform First Report


High Hedges Bill [HL]

INTRODUCTION

30.  This is a private member's bill introduced by Baroness Gardner of Parkes. It provides for local authorities, on complaint by the owner or occupier of domestic property, to take action (by means of remedial notices) to deal with unreasonable obstruction of light caused by a neighbour's high hedge.

DELEGATED POWERS

31.  This bill contains delegated powers in clauses 4(8), 5(6), 8(1), 16(1) and 20(2).

32.  The first three of these enable the Secretary of State to set a maximum fee to accompany a complaint, and to set out the procedure on applications for the variation or withdrawal of a remedial notice and on appeals against remedial notices or decisions of the local authority. We note that amongst the matters for which regulations may provide is that of the grounds for appealing (clause 8(2)(a)). So to that extent regulations are capable of limiting the right of appeal conferred by clause 7(1). We invite the House to consider whether the grounds (or at least the minimum grounds) should be set out in the bill.

33.  Regulations made by the Secretary of State under clauses 4(8), 5(6) and 8(1) are subject to negative resolution procedure. We consider that this is appropriate.

34.  Clause 16(1) contains a Henry VIII power. But the power is limited to :

    (a)  extending complaints to non-domestic property and other matters beyond unreasonable obstruction of light (e.g. physical damage to property);

    (b)  altering the definition of "high hedge";

    (c)  consequential amendments (e.g. adding to the references in the Bill to "unreasonable obstruction of light").

Regulations made by the Secretary of State under clause 16 are subject to the affirmative procedure. We regard this as appropriate.

35.  Clause 20(2) confers power to make commencement orders.

RECOMMENDATION

36.  With the exception of our observations on grounds of appeal (paragraph 34) there is nothing in this bill to which we wish to draw the attention of the House.


 
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