HC Deb 17 April 1928 vol 216 cc127-9

Section fifteen of the Petroleum Act, 1871, shall, in so far as it relates to Scotland, cease to have effect, and the following provisions shall apply to the prosecution of any offence or the recovery of any penalty (in which expression any money or expenses directed to be recovered as penalties are included) under the Petroleum Acts, 1871 to 1926, or under this Act in Scotland:

  1. (1) Any prosecution for an offence, or any proceedings for recovery of a penalty, may, where the offence involves a fine for every day on which the offence occurs or continues, or where the maximum penalty which may be imposed or awarded does not exceed fifty pounds, be brought in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Acts, and any other offence and any other penalty may be prosecuted or recovered on conviction on indictment;
  2. (2) The expression "Court of Summary Jurisdiction" shall have the like meaning as in the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Acts, provided that no Court of Summary Jurisdiction, other than the Sheriff Court, shall have jurisdiction in any prosecution or proceedings where the maximum penalty which may be imposed or awarded exceeds twenty pounds;
  3. (3) Any petroleum, petroleum spirit, or other substance, or thing ordered by a Court to be forfeited may be sold or otherwise disposed of in such manner as the Court shall direct;
  4. (4) Any penalty recovered and the proceeds of any forfeiture sold shall be paid to the King's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer Where the Court is the Sheriff Court, to the county clerk where the Court is the justice of the peace Court, and to the treasurer of the burgh where the Court is the burgh or police Court.—[The Lord Advocate.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


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

The Act of 1871 has been amended in certain particulars by later Acts, but Section 15, which provides for the method of recovering and enforcement of penalties in Scotland and England, is somewhat out of date and vague in certain respects. In order to get the matter in good form in view of the Consolidation Bill, which I understand is to follow this Measure, I thought it right to bring the Act of 1871 up-to-date, and, if the House will give me their attention for just a few moments, I will tell them the exact differences in the Bill from Section 15 of the original Act. Under the Clause which I am now moving, there is no substantial departure from the old law except in three points. In the first place, under the new provisions, the Police and Justices of the Peace Court will have jurisdiction as they have under the 1871 Act—I am talking of Scotland only—but in all other cases triable on summary jurisdiction the Sheriff Court will be the competent Court. Under the Act of 1871, the limit of summary jurisdiction for any of these Summary Courts was £50. I propose in order to bring it into accordance with the present scales of jurisdiction that the Police and Justices of the Peace Court jurisdiction should be limited to fines of £20 and that all cases involving a larger sum should be triable by the Sheriff Court.




That is the Court which is given jurisdiction for offences involving higher fines than £20. Normally, the Justices of the Peace Court is even more limited in the amount of its jurisdiction. In the second place, under Section 15 of the Act of 1871 where the penalty exceeds £50—which we have left as the limit for summary jurisdiction—there was a provision that there may be recovery and enforcement in the same manner in which any penalty due to Her Majesty under any Act of Parliament may be recovered and enforced. I confess frankly that I should not like to be asked a question as to what are the various methods in which any penalty due to Her Majesty under any Act of Parliament may be recovered and enforced. It seems vague and indefinite, and it would be much more satisfactory to provide that anything which is not within summary jurisdiction should be triable by indictment, which is the ordinary provision of the criminal law. That is the second change. The only other divergence is that under the revised Clause which I am now moving we propose to limit the right to prosecute to the Public Prosecutor. Under the Act of 1871, there was included as having the right to prosecute an officer authorised by a harbour or local authority. The whole tendency and development of the law in Scotland has been that the Public Prosecutor is the most satisfactory method, and it will be consistent with our procedure that matters such as this should be dealt with by the Public Prosecutor and not by an officer authorised by a harbour or local authority. That is the third variation to Section 15 of the Act of 1871 which we propose. With this explanation, I hope that the House will accept the Clause.


I should just like to ask one question in order to be quite clear on one point. Does it mean that the officers who have control of petroleum in a city will be the informers of the Public Prosecutor?


They will be the informers in the ordinary way, but the information will come from the inspectors.


Supposing you have 10 or 15 inspectors, will they all be able to give information, or will it come from one of their number?


That is part of the administration of the Act.

Clause added to the Bill.