§ As amended, considered.
§ NEW CLAUSE.——(Consent of the Director-General of National Service to Prosecutions and Provision as to Continuing Offences.)
§ (1) A prosecution for an offence under this Act or under the principal Act shall not be instituted in England except with the consent of the Director-General of National Service.
§ (2) Sub-section (3) of. Section thirteen of the principal Act shall have effect as if there were inserted at the end thereof the words "after conviction."—[Mr. Hayes Fisher.]
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Hayes Fisher)
I beg to move '' That the Clause be read a second time."
The object of this Clause is to minimise as far as possible prosecutions for offences against the Act. It was rather feared by some, when considering the Bill in Committee, that prosecutions might be initiated 'very freely, and heavy penalties imposed against young people and discharged soldiers who had omitted' to register under the Act, merely because they were unfamiliar with the Act, and with the necessities of conforming to it by registering their names. I have endeavoured to meet that view, although it is not shared here, and to minimise as far as possible prosecutions for any omissions under this amending Bill, or, indeed, under the principal Act. There have been, as a matter of fact, very few prosecutions under the principal Act. They have been very rare. I have said before, and I repeat again, our object is not to exact fines. Our object is to get the most perfect and the most accurate register 1334 you can possibly get with as few prosecutions as you can have, and as. few penalties as possible, and if this Clause is accepted by the House, no prosecutions can De set on toot except with the consent of the Director-General of National Service, who is not likely to consent to a prosecution for a mere act of negligence or a mere act of omission on the part of a discharged soldier, or lad, or anyone else. If this Clause is acceptable, as I think it will be, the House may feel safe not only as regards discharged soldiers, but as regards persons generally who honestly have not made themselves acquainted with the Act or with the necessity of registering under it.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I have studied the Order Paper to see what Amendments the right hon. Gentleman has put down to carry out the pledges he gave in Committee, and when I consider that this Amendment is designed by the right hon. Gentleman to meet the objections that were offered, not for a few minutes, but for some hours, against the heavy penalties which might fall upon children and which would fall upon discharged soldiers and sailors for breaches of this Act, I am very much surprised indeed that the right hon. Gentleman should think that this in any way fulfils the pledges that he gave. Because what were the criticisms that were directed in connection with the matters raised by this Amendment in the Committee stage of the Bill? The objections were that the Bill was drawn to include people of every age between fifteen and sixty-five, including a considerable number of discharged soldiers. It was pointed out that the Bill departed from the principle observed in the original Act under which a census was taken, forms were left at the individual households, and they were merely required to be filled up; whereas in this amending Bill no census is taken, but the duty is placed upon all those affected by the Act themselves to obtain forms, fill them up, and return them to the appropriate registration authority in a few days. It was pointed out that a soldier might return from, say, Mesopotamia, and know nothing at all about this Act, and yet within seven days after landing in this country, it may be wounded or permanently disabled, if lie did riot register he would be subject on conviction to a fine of £5, and a continuing penalty of perhaps £1 a day for breaches of the Act. It was pointed out that that was the way in 1335 which you were going to treat discharged soldiers under this Bill, and the same objection was made to the heavy penalties which, as the Bill was introduced, would fall upon school children of the age of fifteen years.
What was the attitude that the right hon. Gentleman took in committee? And let me remind the House that the amazing provisions of this Bill are only just beginning to be realised. It is not that many people may not accept the principle, but there has been a widespread ignorance of the amazing machinery which is suggested for carrying out the object aimed at in the Bill. There was on the Committee stage the most serious. objection taken to the whole question of the penalties which would fall upon people who did not observe the provisions of this Act, and the right hon. Gentleman, not once in the course of that discussion, but again and again—and his words were echoed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board—promised, in view of the strong feeling that was expressed in Committee, to consider between then and the Report stage the whole question of the penalties upon young persons, upon discharged soldiers, and upon everyone affected by the Bill. I speak in the recollection of the Members who were present at the Committee stage, and I am sure the general feeling was that the right hon. Gentleman intended, if not entirely to remove these penalties, at least to mitigate them very greatly. Has he done so? He has not. He brings forward a new Clause dealing with this question, and the only difference between his new proposals and the proposals of the Bill is that the consent of the Director-General of National Service has first to be obtained by the local authorities before any prosecution is commenced under the provisions of this Act. That has not adequately met the views expressed in Committee, and has riot adequately met the objections to the extraordinary machinery proposed. I suggest that there will not be a few instances of a breach of the provisions, but that where you are placing upon 1,000,000 persons between the ages of fifteen and seventeen and a half the day the Bill passes the duty of registering themselves, of finding out where the local authority is, of getting a form and filling it up and returning it within seven days, and, where you are doing that, too, in regard to the whole of the soldiers 1336 as they are discharged from the Army or disbanded, it is quite obvious that, not in individual cases, but in thousands of cases, there will be breaches of the provisions of this Act, particularly so because cry young person, as every discharged soldier, if he changes his address is committing an offence, unless be registers the new address with the local registration authority, and if the discharged soldier or any other person fails to report any change in his occupation he is committing an offence.
It is not sufficient to say that you protect the persons affected by this Bill from prosecution by first requiring the assent of the Director-General of National Service. The numerous hotels that are daily being commandeered for the different Government Departments would certainly be necessary for the Director-General of National Service to consider all the eases that will reach him from every registration area over the whole of the country; and the fact remains, therefore, that after this new Clause, which the right hon. Gentleman has moved, is incorporated in the Act, it will still render liable to heavy penalties all persons, certainly over eighteen years of age, whether they be discharged soldiers or others, providing that the local registration authority has first obtained the assent of the Director-General. I think this proposal to penalise by unusually heavy penalties. and by continuing penalties, persons who may through sheer ignorance even of the existence of the Act, fail to carry out these provisions within the very limited time allowed—such penalties for such trivial offences!—is alien to the spirit of modern legislation in this country and repugnant to the feeling of the country. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman how he is going to redeem the promise that he made to consider the question of penalties? He did not dispute—
§ Mr. FISHER
The only promise I made was to consider the whole question of penalties. I have considered it, and have made a great concession to those who criticised the Bill from the point of view of the hon. Member. He may not be satisfied, but I am inclined to think that the Amendments will meet with the approval of the House.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
The right hon. Gentleman will really forgive me if I 1337 say that his interruption is not relevant. I will try to show him why. If the right hon. Gentleman reads his own words in the OFFICIAL REPORT he will find that he did not, when dealing with the question of these penalties, dispute the criticisms or arguments or the positions taken up by the critics that the penalties were very heavy, nor did he meet the feeling that the large fine in the first instance, and a continuing penalty afterwards, of £1 per day for each day the offence continued, would mean, or might mean, an intolerable injustice upon the men and women upon whom they fall. He did not dispute this. He never said, in reply to the critics, when they pointed out how heavy were the penalties, that they were too heavy. He met the arguments of the critics by saying: "I will carefully consider the whole question' of penalties, and will see what can be done by the time the Report stage is reached."
§ Mr. FISHER
The hon. Member has invited me to explain this to the House. I did say that I would consider the question of penalties. I have done so. I think even the hon. Member will admit that the proposals I make very largely minimise the amount of penalties that can be taken from those who have committed a breach of the law; because, after all, the continuing penalty is only provided for "after conviction,'' and will only be put upon those who really are contumacious, and who deliberately, after conviction, go on defying the Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
The right hon. Gentleman is heardly treating the points that I am making fairly—if he will forgive me saying so—because he made no allusion whatever, in moving this new Clause, to the second part of the Clause. Everyone thought, on reading the original Act, that the penalty was first a fine of £5 and then a continuing fine of £1 per day for each day that' the offence was continued. Anyone reading the original Act would take that meaning, that the continuing fine could not be imposed until after conviction. The only difference, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman makes in the Amendment that he now moves is to make it clear that the continuing penalty of £1 per day only counts after the defendant has been convicted of the offence—that is to say, a man is summoned for not having given his new address, or new occupation, or 1338 for having failed to register, or for any other breach of this Act, and he may now, if the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is incorporated in the Bill, be fined £5 for the offence, and after conviction be subjected to a continuing penalty of £1 per day. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman will for a moment think that I have misinterpreted the effect of his Amendment, or what will be the position after it has been incorporated in the Act. So that the position stands like this: You are making a new statutory crime for failure to observe duties which most people, nay, a great number of people, affected by this new Bill, will not know they have to observe. You are making these statutory crimes fall upon discharged soldiers and sailors, may of whom will not know, within seven days of their reaching this country, that they have to observe the Regulations of any such Bill. For these trumpery offences, committed in ignorance, you are imposing upon people, guilty in this technical sense, fines up to £5, and a continuing penalty of £1 per day. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that that is carrying out his promise to reconsider the whole question of penalties, I can only say, with much respect, that I entirely disagree from him as to what reconsideration means. In face of the very strong feeling expressed in the House during the progress of the Bill through the Committee stage, I very much hope that the Bill will not be allowed to go through with these extraordinary penalties falling upon people who ought first to be protected against such penalties. I believe this provision, when it is generally known, will meet with general reprobation.
§ Mr. KING
There are just one or two points of this new Clause which have not been touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lanark. In the first place, the fact that under the principal Act there were very few prosecutions and fines quite natural, and a fact that we might have expected, because as has been pointed out, this was a Census, a single registration was sufficient, and then the thing being done, and once done, by everybody in the Kingdom, no offences arose. It was, therefore, quite reasonable to expect that there would be very few offences in any case. Now, however, you are dealing with quite a different matter. You are making a continuous 1339 liability to registration, and a great number of people will have forgotten that two and a-half years ago they registered in the first instance; they will have forgotten that they have cards, and they will not know where their cards are. In many cases they will have altered, not only their residence, but employment, and will be quite unaware that they arc liable to register the change. I believe it is most unlikely that you will have this register kept up-to-date, and therefore correct. I believe it is far more than the public are prepared for at the present time, or than the officials are prepared to carry out. Therefore I am sure you are going to have a great number of failures, perhaps inevitably so. It may be the case that in certain areas it is very desirable, in the view of the Ministry of National Service, to get particulars of certain industries and certain conditions of those industries. Emergencies may arise making this information very desirable to be had, and for the registration to take place. It may be found that this information is not forthcoming. Is the Ministry of National Service going to put in force its powers of fining everybody? Are notices to be issued that unless everybody registers they will all be fined? That is what is quite likely to happen. That is, if any real use is to be made of this register.
Another matter Candidly, I should have preferred that it should be the leave of the Local Government Board and not the leave of the Ministry of National Service which should be taken before prosecution is undertaken. I do not trust any Government Department very much at the present time. I think I trust the Ministry of National Service least of all. To give the Local Government Board its due, I think it has really been carrying on its work, on the whole, quite as respectably as we could expect under the circumstances. Therefore, I would point out, because it might be possible to alter this, of which we are complaining, in another place. As to continuing offences, I readily admit that the second part of this Clause is a most distinct. improvement and gain. I sincerely thank the President of the Local Government Board for Sub-section (2) of this new Clause. Here arises a point which might have the attention of the Secretary for Scotland, or the legal authorities at the present time on the bench opposite. 1340 This new Clause refers to Section 13 of the principal Act. Why does it not refer to Section 9 of the new Act? It amends the continuing offences set up by the principal Act. Does it really cover the continuing offences set up by Section 9 of this Act? If the President of the Local Government Board is considering the whole question of offences and fines created by this Act, why does not he introduce the Amendment into Section 9 of the Act we are now considering? I hope the Secretary for Scotland sees the point which I am raising. If he does not, I hope he will read my remarks tomorrow in the OFFICIAL REPORT, because I believe he will then see that there is a real doubt and difficulty in this connection. If he does so, I am sure he will consider the matter of setting it right in another place. I trust we may have some reply from the Secretary for Scotland. Even if he does not think fit to reply, I trust that at any rate he will consider the points I have made.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I was not in the House when the right hon. Gentleman moved this Amendment, and I do not know on what grounds he thinks it is sufficient to fulfil the pledges he gave during the Committee stage. It certainly does not seem to me to be quite adequate to the purpose, and I still hope he will reconsider the subject. This question of penalties is the most important matter that arises under this Bill. In many ways this measure is unprecedented because it puts on unofficial persons the liability of carrying out official duties. In the past when you took a Census or made up a register you always had official machinery for the distribution of the forms, and it has always been their duty to fill up the forms and return them, and they were liable for these duties. The initiative in all other legislation lay with the official persons, but in this Bill the initiative lies with private persons. It is the duty of a private person to discover whether he has to be registered, and this duty is imposed upon lads of fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen years of age who have to get their own forms and fill them up. Therefore it is very necessary, as this duty is imposed upon private persons for the first time in the history of legislation, to see that these persons shall not be subject to heavy penalties. I would like to know whether it is intended to carry out the pledges which have been given with regard to lads 1341 under eighteen. The pledge of the right hon. Gentleman was quite specific on this point. He said:We shall mould the Bill so as to he perfectly certain that no penalties in the ordinary sense of the word shall be so imposedWhat the right hon. Gentleman meant by the "ordinary sense of the word" I do not know. What I think the House desired was that no penalties whatever shall be imposed upon boys of eighteen and less for not filling up these register forms correctly. I should like to know whether this new Clause is intended to cover the pledge as regards boys of less than eighteen. As regards discharged soldiers, it does not seem to me that this is really a reconsideration of the subject at all. The penalties remain as before, and the discharged soldier or sailor who fails to carry out the difficult duties imposed by this Bill is still liable in spite of this new Amendment to a fine not exceeding £5, and if the offence continues to a continuing penalty of per day. I think that is an outrageous penalty to impose upon men of this character who have already served their country. When the right hon. Gentleman said that he w as going to reconsider that point I understood that he was going to reconsider the amount of the penalty. I submit these penalties are out of all proportion to the offence that will arise, and I would like to know if the right hon. Gentleman could not see his way to get rid of the continuing penalty for continuing offences considering that there is no criminal motive in it, and to see that the penalties do correspond with the offence that is committed under this Bill.
§ Mr. KILEY
I would like the President to give the House a little more information as to the delegation of power to the Director-General of National Service. Does it mean that the Director-General can transfer these powers to his representatives in all the districts of England? If that is so, it somewhat modifies the sense of security which some of us might desire. I am quite willing that this measure should be administered by the Director-General and his office where he has a legal staff to advise him, but if he intends to hand them over to the local authorities in every little district in the country it alters the state of affairs very considerably. I would like to express my regret that the President has not seen his way to go more deeply into the under- 1342 taking which he has given, for he made us understand that he was inclined to modify the penalties which were mentioned in the Bill. I would suggest even now that he should consider whether for the first offence a nominal fine of 40s. would not be sufficient, and then he can take a larger penalty for a repetition of the offence. That would be more reasonable and would satisfy me.
§ Mr. WATT
This Clause deals entirely with England, but I wish to ask what arrangement has been made for dealing with similar cases in Scotland. These penalties are of a serious nature, and some of us object very strongly that they should be placed on discharged soldiers and sailors who have done their bit. The consent of the Director-General in England has to be obtained before the prosecutions can be taken, but I want to know what provision is made for Scotland in regard to prosecutions for any breach of this measure. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to explain that the Lord Advocate's protection deemed to be sufficient, but I wish to have a statement in the House to that effect so that the soldiers and sailors who are resident in Scotland will have the protection which I desire.
§ The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Munro)
During the Committee stage apprehensions were entertained and expressed to the effect, in the first place, that there might be unnecessary prosecutions by virtue of this provision; and, in the second place, that penalties of undue severity, continuing penalties, might be imposed upon a class of persons whom I shall term unwitting sinners against the Bill. These fears were expressed, and my reply is that ray right hon. Friend, by the new Clause he proposes, has quite fairly and completely met the apprehensions which were then expressed. The first point was that there might be unnecessary and indeed vindictive and reckless prosecutions. I think there is a complete answer to that suggestion, inasmuch as my right hon. Friend provides that the consent of the Director-General of National Service shall be necessary for a prosecution under this Bill. The point has been raised as to whether the Director-General will personally consider every case—and I am quite unable to say, but one must remember that he is placed in the same position as the Attorney- 1343 General and the Lord Advocate, and as, I think, in some cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions. Whether or not these officials personally consider each case, we must remember that those officers are responsible to this House for the manner in which they administer their Departments. How the Director-General of National Service may exercise these powers is riot for me to say, but what I think is sufficient for the House is that here we have full control over him, and he is responsible for the exercise of his discretion. It seems to me that the exercise of such discretion on his part affords a complete answer to the case put by the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark (Mr. Whitehouse), of a soldier coming back from Mesopotamia, being ignorant of this Act, and being prosecuted under it. Does my hon. Friend suggest that in such a case it is likely that the Director-General of National Service would consent to a prosecution? If he does not think so, then his case is met, and if he does think so I would like to hear him say so.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Objection was taken not only on the point which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned, but also to the fact that the penalties were far too heavy and preposterous to attach to these offences, and how does the right hon. Gentleman contend that this proposal meets the pledge given to consider the extent of the penalties?
§ Mr. MUNRO
I should have much preferred it if my hon. Friend had answered the question I put to him, but instead of doing that he has asked another question. I will just say, in reply, that the hon. Member is assuming that the maximum penalty will be inflicted in all cases. Now I think that is quite an unwarrantable assumption, because magistrates will exercise a fair discretion. As to the fear of unnecessary prosecutions, I think that point has been met.
§ Mr. MUNRO
The hon. Gentleman is entitled to his own opinion, but he has adduced no arguments in support of it, and I have adduced arguments in support of my contention. On the question of whether or not a penalty might be inflicted on a person guilty of a continuing offence, although unaware of it, that 1344 point has been completely met by the second part of the Clause which my right hon. Friend has proposed, and therefore I do not need to labour that point. By virtue of the second part of this Clause, no person will be penalised for the commission of a continuing offence until he has been fully apprised of his guilt—that is to say, until he has been convicted. Any subsequent breach, therefore, will be totally inexcusable and will be committed with full knowledge that he is breaking the provisions of an Act of Parliament. I submit that these two arguments have been completely met, and I should rather have expected my hon. Friend to show a little gratitude towards the President of the Local Government Board, instead of looking a gift horse in the mouth as he has done, and criticising this proposal with some asperity and some unreasonableness. The legal point raised was with regard to the omission to refer to Section 9 of this Bill, as well as to refer to Section 13 of the principal Act. I have looked into that point, and I do think that it is unnecessary that I should read the Official Report of the hon. Member's speech to appreciate the point. I think it is a bad point, for this reason—I read that my hon. Friend is a lawyer as well as a politician—he will find that the two Acts are to be read as one, and, further that Clause 13 in the original Act is the only Clause which imposes penalties for a continuing offence. There is no other Clause which imposes a penalty for a continuing offence, and, inasmuch as the two Acts are to be read together, I think the Clause entirely meets the point that the hon. Gentleman has raised. If he desires it, however, I will have it looked into further, and if it should be found that I am wrong and that he is right I have no doubt that my right lion. Friend will take steps to have the matter put right in another place. With regard to the point that my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Watt) has raised as to Scotland, the matter stands really as he anticipates. Protection is accorded in England by the words, "with the consent of the Director-General of National Service." In Scotland, as my hon. and learned Friend well knows, the Lord Advocate is responsible for all prosecutions which take place. I see, according to the provisions of this Bill, that the prosecutions, if any are to take place in 1345 the Sheriff Court. The Sheriff Court prosecutor is a public prosecutor, responsible to the Lord Advocate who, again, is responsible to this House. Accordingly, the protection which is afforded by this Bill to any persons liable to prosecution in England is afforded to any persons liable to prosecution in Scotland by the existence of the Lord Advocate and his office, and the right which he enjoys to direct and control and be responsible for all prosecutions which are public prosecutions, and there are practically no others, as my hon. and learned Friend knows. Probably he will be content with the assurance that I have given in public that everyone in Scotland will be protected by virtue of the immemorial right of the Lord Advocate to control and direct prosecutions, to direct them if he chooses, and also to refuse to direct them if he so pleases.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause read a second time, and added to the Bill.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
With regard to the next Clause—"No discharged sailor or soldier shall be subject to penalties under this Act"—standing in the name of the hon. Member for Mid-Lanarkshire (Mr. Whitehouse)—there are two Clauses in the Bill which impose penalties. One imposes penalties upon employers and the other upon employés. I presume that the hon. Member's Clause is intended to apply to employés only. In that case, it ought to come as an Amendment to Clause 6. With regard to the next Clause—"No penalty under this Act shall fall upon any person under the age of eighteen"—also standing in the name of the hon. Member for Mid-Lanarkshire, think it is already provided for in the Bill.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member -will look at Clause 6, Sub-section (4), as passed in Committee, he will see that it reads
"If any person over the age of eighteen fails to comply with the provisions of this Section … he shall be liable."
Does that meet the hon. Member's point?
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
No, Sir. May I address you on a point of Order? This is a matter about which very contrary views were expressed in Committee, and 1346 no final decision was reached, even by the representative of the Government. Subsection (2) of Clause 2 reads
"Sections 5, 6 and 13 of the principal Act (which relate respectively to the completion and correction of forms, to the right to certificates of registration and to penalties) shall have effect as if references therein to forms included a reference to forms under this Act."
The result of that Section is to transfer the penalties from the original Act to this Act in the following way. Section 13 of the principal Act relates to penalties. It sets forth the penalty for failing to fill up a form. The result of this Section being in this Bill is to make the person who fails to fill up a form under Section 13 of the original Act liable to a penalty under this Act, the two Acts being construed together. This point was argued at very great length in Committee, and this view was put forward again and again. It was in connection with the arguments that took place on this Section that a promise was given for consideration. I am not suggesting that the case I made was admitted. I speak with great respect, but after careful examination I feel quite sure that the effect of Sub-section (2) is to bring the penalties from the original Act and to put them also into this Bill. That is why it becomes necessary to move the new Clause standing in my name, and I now rise to move it. There is no disagreement on the point of principle between the Government and myself. The Government in Committee admitted that if this Clause did not, certain other Clauses in this Bill did, impose penalties upon persons between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. They modified the obvious Clause that imposed these penalties under this Bill by inserting the age "over eighteen," but they left this Section with which I am now dealing unattended to. The whole difficulty that has arisen is duo to the very involved and obscure, and, I think, faulty draftsmanship of Subsection (2) of Clause 2. It is a very difficult and subtle point of law for lawyers, and I should be very grateful for the opinion of my right hon. and learned. Friend the Secretary for Scotland, but to a layman trying to understand it without a life's experience of legal terms behind him it is especially difficult. The House and the Government were agreed 1347 that no penalties under this Bill should fall upon persons under the age of eighteen, and that was the policy that was declared by Parliament when the original Act was going through this House. The right hon. Gentleman again and again said that he would remould the Bill in order to make it quite certain that no penalty would fall upon any persons under the age of eighteen. We have, therefore, no point of principle to argue. We are reduced to the consideration of the question whether Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 brings the penalties from the original Act and puts them into this Bill. I can express the matter in its simplest form by reading Sub-section (2) as though it referred to Section 13 of the principal Act only, omitting needless words—
Section …. 13 of the principal Act … relating to penalties shall have effect as if reference therein to forms included a reference to forms under this Act."
I think it is quite obvious—I only want to be shown where I am wrong—that if you are going to construe the penalty Clause in the original Act side by side with the provisions of this Bill, you do bring the penalties, no less than the duties of filling up the forms, into this Bill. I know that the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers feel that the Section as drawn is an extraordinarily difficult Section. It is most involved, but if it does not mean what I submit that it does mean, I suggest that it has no meaning whatever. It, therefore, becomes necessary to make provision against penalties falling upon young persons between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. I want to put one question to the Secretary for Scotland or to the President of the Local Government Board. May I ask what is the objection to putting the simple, clear, non-ambiguous words of my Clause into this Bill? The right hon. Gentleman himself, not once or twice, but half a dozen times in Committee, said that it was his intention so to remould the Bill as to prevent any penalties falling upon persons under the age of eighteen because that was the deliberate policy of Parliament, expressed after a very long Debate on the principal Act.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have followed the arguments of the hon. Member, and I think he is answered by Section 13 of 1348 the National Registration Act, 1915, which is limited to persons over eighteen years of age. No penalties, therefore, could be imposed upon persons under eighteen years of age. The penalties must be imposed either by this Act or by the original Act.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Very well. They are limited by Section 6 of this Bill to persons over eighteen years of age, and under the original Act they are limited to persons over the age of eighteen by Clause 13. Therefore, the provision the hon. Member is seeking to obtain is already in the Act and in the Bill.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
May I address you on a point of Order? The last Clause of the present Bill states that the two Acts shall be construed together. That is why I say, with great respect, that it brings the penalties from the one Act to the other. May I also say that in another Clause of the present Bill definite penalties were imposed upon persons under the age of eighteen, and that was modified by the addition of words in Committee?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is what I say. The hon. Gentleman has been met by the alteration made in Committee.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Except as to the last Clause, which says that the two Acts shall he construed together.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Yes, and if you bring in the other Act, the penalties under Clause 13 are limited to persons over eighteen.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
May I move my first Clause: "No discharged sailor or soldier shall be subject to penalties under this Act"?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have already ruled that Clause out and told the hon. Member the place where it must be dealt with.