HC Deb 16 June 1938 vol 337 cc497-8 The power conferred on a court of summary jurisdiction by Section fifty-four of the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Act, 1908, to alter or modify a sentence shall be exercisable without requiring the attendance of the accused, and, without prejudice to the generality of the said power, shall include power in the case where payment of a fine by instalments has been ordered, to reduce the amount, or allow further time for the payment, of any instalment (whether the time for payment thereof has or has not expired), or to order payment of the fine, so far as unpaid, by instalments of smaller amounts, or at longer intervals than originally ordered.—[The Lord Advocate.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

7.40 p.m.

The Lord Advocate (Mr. T. M. Cooper)

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

This is in fulfilment of an undertaking given in the Committee stage. It has two objects. In the first place, to throw into greater relief the power of a court of summary jurisdiction to alter or modify a sentence without requiring the attendance of the accused, and also to adapt that power to a new power of imposing a fine by instalments. I understand that hon. Members who have pressed for this concession have indicated that the new Clause satisfies them.

7.41 p.m.

Mr. Westwood

The new Clause meets the promises made by the Government in Committee, and I desire to raise only one point. It makes provision for the modification of a sentence, and it also makes it possible that a poor man is not sent to gaol merely because he is too poor to pay the money fine. The new Clause makes it possible for a fine to be paid by instalments, and if anything is brought to the notice of the court there can be a modification or reduction of the fine. That will be of advantage in the interests of criminal administration in Scotland. But it is a pity that the Lord Advocate has not seen his way to extend the Clause a little further and provided for evening courts to be held in Scotland instead of morning courts, which in many instances create difficulty and add to the penalty imposed on a poor person. There was a promise in Committee that this point would be considered, and I had hoped that it would have been provided for in the new Clause. However, we are prepared to accept the Clause as fulfilling a pledge given in Committee.

Mr. Maxton

I want to ask whether the new Clause meets the point raised in Committee about imprisonment automatically following failure to pay one instalment of the fine?

The Lord Advocate

I am not sure to what the hon. Members refers, but this Clause was submitted to the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) about a week ago, and he wrote telling me that it met his point.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.