HC Deb 28 May 1936 vol 312 cc2360-2

I beg to move, in page 13, line 11, to leave out "in the United Kingdom."

This is purely drafting. The proper place for these words is in the Second Schedule, where they now appear.

Amendment agreed to.

11.36 p.m.


I beg to more, in page 13, line 35, to leave out from "exceeding," to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert: twenty-five pounds or on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or three months imprisonment. This is to put the pilot on an equality with the motorist. We wish to reduce the maximum fine from £200 to £50 for a technical offence.


We can always argue about these penalties one way or the other. My hon. Friend relies on the analogy of the motorist. We rely on the fact that in the principal Act this was the penalty. I cannot accept the Amendment.

11.38 p.m.


I would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to give a little further consideration to the principle that underlies the Amendment. It is true that the maximums mentioned were originally as fixed by the Act of 1920. Since that time activity in aviation has greatly increased, but many people are doubtful whether the appreciation of that activity by benches of magistrates has increased to the same extent, and we feel that there is a real danger that, when a high maximum is placed on what may be a technical offence, heavy penalties are imposed. We have endeavoured to safeguard the case of a serious offence by a person who, either by misconduct or through gross negligence, fails to insure by giving the alternative of permitting the prosecution to proceed by indictment, when there may be a penalty of three months' imprisonment I would ask my hon. and learned Friend to weigh the different position of aviation since 1920 and consider whether these penalties cannot be reduced to some extent.

11.40 p.m.


I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will not accept the Amendment. There are two types of offence. There is that of the owner of aircraft and that of the pilot. A fine of £25 might mean ruin to the pilot, but to the owner of many aircraft a fine of £200 might mean nothing. At present the maximum fine to be imposed is £200, and I think that we can leave it to the discretion of the Court to make the penalty fit the crime, which is the principle already accepted in the courts. I have heard that some men put on their old suits when going before the magistrates for motoring offences, and I think that something of the kind might well meet the case here.


In spite of the fact that there is this maximum, I have before me a list of the actual fines imposed, and the bulk of them are quite small amounts, which shows that the magistrates do exercise discretion.

Amendment negatived.

Clauses 14 to 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.