§ No information as to any person or any business obtained under this Act shall without lawful authority be published or disclosed except for the purposes of legal proceedings under this Act, and if any person knowingly publishes or discloses any information in contravention of this provision he shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding three months, or to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds, or to both such imprisonment, and fine.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I beg to move, to leave out the words "without lawful authority."
1043 I cannot quite understand for what purpose information which has been acquired by the Board of Trade from the books of various traders, to which they are to have access, and which, of course, they will very thoroughly examine and investigate, outside that of a Law Court which is provided for, should be published or disclosed to anybody at any time. There must be some reason, but it does not appear on the face of the Bill, and for the purpose of ascertaining the reason, I move to leave out these words. I am told that the words "without lawful authority" are common form in matters of this sort, and therefore, although there is nothing in the Bill to show whether the President of the Board of Trade or the Treasury or the High Court is the lawful authority, I do not propose to ask what the words mean. It seems to me, if the lawful authority is the Board of Trade or some non-judicial body or person, then under these words the whole of the transactions of the trader might be made known and very considerable harm might be done to him.
§ Sir G. HEWART
There will be no difficulty in accepting this Amendment provided that a consequential Amendment is made. My right lion. Friend is quite right in thinking that the words "without lawful authority" are in such a context common form. What they mean, and the whole of what they mean, is that the person who obtains the information on behalf of the Board of Trade is not to publish it to the world without lawful authority. If he disclosed it to the Board of Trade that would be a disclosure with lawful authority. If he published it to third persons, that would be without lawful authority, and he is not authorised to do it. I propose, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, to omit the words "without lawful authority" and then to go on to omit the words "or disclosed," and later on the. words "or discloses." The effect would be that the communication of the information to the Board of Trade would be permissible, but that any publication to third persons would be prohibited.
§ Sir G. HEWART
Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: After the word "publishes," leave out the words "or discloses."—[Sir G. Hewart.]