HC Deb 28 July 1913 vol 56 cc79-82

"(1) Any person who makes a wilful misstatement of any material fact in any petition or statement of particulars under this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.

(2) Any person who makes a wilful misstatement of fact in any medical or other certificate, or in any statement or report of bodily or mental condition, under this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.

(3) A prosecution for a misdemeanour under this Section shall not take place except by order of the Board, or by direction of the Attorney-General, or the Director of Public Prosecutions."

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."

I only propose to formally move this new Clause, because I am informed by the Home Secretary it is unnecessary, and if he will just explain to the House why it is unnecessary, I think it will be satisfactory. The Clause is intended to make it punishable for any person to make a wilful misstatement. Of course the House will understand that under this Bill a great deal is allowed to doctors and medical practitioners. They draw up certificates of various kinds, and it seems to me and my hon. Friends it is very important that the danger they incur by making misstatements should be brought before the eyes of medical practitioners who sign these certificates. The Home Secretary says this provision is already in the Perjury Act. But even if it is already in the Perjury Act I suggest that it would be advisable to put it into, this Bill, because you are giving such wide powers to medical practitioners. Then, again, you have got to remember that every year to begin with, and then every five years, fresh certificates are to be signed by the medical officers in institutions as to the health of individual patients, and there, in case of misstatements being made, you consign a person to another long period of imprisonment, and it may be to imprisonment for life. I think it is very important that the medical officers of institutions who will have this Bill before them, and who will know it inside and outside, should also have this Clause before them. They will not know anything about this Clause in the Perjury Act, and this Clause in this Bill would be a definite reminder that what they set their hands to should be the truth, the whole, truth and nothing but the truth. Therefore, I think, although this Clause exists in the Perjury Act, it would be well to insert it in this Bill also.


I beg to second the Motion.


As my right hon. Friend has said, Sub-sections (1) and (2) of this Clause are covered by the previous enactment of 1911, Section 5, which says:— If any person knowingly and wilfully makes (otherwise than an oath) a statement false in a material particular and the statement is made in a statutory declaration.……or any oral declaration or oral answer, which he is required to make by, under, or in pursuance of any public general Act of Parliament for the time being in force, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and shall be liable on conviction thereof, on indictment, to imprisonment with or without hard labour, to any term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or to both such imprisonment and fine. I think my hon. Friend will agree that these two Sub-sections are covered by that Section. As to Sub-section (3) of the Clause, as my hon. Friend is anxious to get this declaration as quickly as possible, I hardly think he will be anxious to press it.


In that case, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment, although I have not had an answer about my desire to repeat these Perjury Clauses in this Bill.


It is not necessary.

Proposed Clause, by leave, withdrawn.