§ Notwithstanding anything in the Summary Jurisdiction Acts, proceedings under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1906, instituted with a view to obtaining a summary conviction for an offence thereunder, may be commenced at any time before the expiration of six months after the first discovery of the offence by the prosecutor.
§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
§ Sir A. SPICER
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."
I believe the Government will accept this new Clause. The justification for it is that it often happens that offences do 1882 not come to light for a long time after they have been committed, and consequently there has been inevitable delay in setting the law in motion, and six months or so have elapsed between making the application for the fiat and any decision being arrived at. Under these circumstances, the magistrate has no option but to dismiss the summons or commit the man for trial, however trivial the offence. This involves trial at the Assizes, and expense both to the prisoner and the country.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I could scarcely hear the Clause read, and I should like to know what it means. From what date is the six months to run?
§ Sir F. SMITH
Yes, it does. I may perhaps reassure my hon. and learned Friend if I say that the Clause in its present form is an adaptation of a suggested Amendment of my right hon. Friend (Sir A. Spicer), and of a similar Amendment suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend Commander Wedgwood). We did not feel disposed to accept the words of either Amendment as it stood, but we are prepared to accept the Clause in its present form. The change which is brought about by this new Clause is necessary.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I was much impressed with the speech of the Attorney-General with regard to the fiat, but I am rather upset with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir A. Spicer) that six months have elapsed between an application to the Attorney-General for his fiat and the granting of the fiat. If the Committee had known that, they might have taken a different view of the Attorney-General's speech. Does it take six months to get the Attorney-General's fiat?
§ Sir F. SMITH
I am unaware of that. During the time I have been a Law Officer I am unaware of any case in which it has taken more than a few days.
§ Question, "That the Clause be added to the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Tuesday next, and to be printed. [Bill 117.]