Clearing snow from pavements outside your home could make you liable to legal action if somebody slips on ice, the government has said.
If snow is left, the council is liable
But if householders leave the snow, the council is liable, Lord Davies of Oldham, for ministers, told Tory Lord Burnham at question time.
Claims against householders were "few and far between," he added.
But Tory Baroness Carnegy of Lour called for a law change, to encourage people to "do their bit".
Labour ex-minister Lord Dubs added: "Something I have done for years every
time there has been snow is leaving me liable to legal action."
Lord Davies said: "No householder is at all responsible, providing they do not touch the pavement, which is owned by the local authority."
But he added: "The moment they address the issue of the pavement with a view to improving things, which may lead to a deterioration, it may be their action
that makes them culpable."
"If people completely and utterly and totally clear away all snow and return
the pavement to the situation it was in before the snow landed, they have done
an excellent job.
"If it is done in a less than complete manner and leaves ice, which is more
dangerous than the original covering of snow, it may not necessarily be the
local authority that is responsible but the householder for having dealt with the
If the exchanges led to fewer people clearing snow, Lord Davies added, "that
would be a great pity and I would have acted to the detriment of the nation".