HC Deb 11 February 1943 vol 386 cc1437-8
42. Mr. Driberg

asked the Home Secretary whether, pending the promised increase in the supply of bicycle-lamp batteries, he will advise magistrates to deal leniently with workers engaged in vital war industry who are obliged to cycle to and from their work and can show that they have been unable to obtain batteries?

Mr. H. Morrison

No, Sir. It is for the magistrates to decide the appropriate penalty to be imposed in any particular case having regard to the nature of the offence and to any mitigating circumstances. It would not be proper for me to seek to interfere with the exercise of this discretion.

Mr. Driberg

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there is a very wide divergence of practice between magistrates in exactly similar cases causing very real hardship to people who are in effect innocent, and could he not issue a circular to magistrates on the subject?

Mr. Morrison

I am afraid that there is always some divergence of practice between benches, and I do not see how that can be avoided under our local system of administering justice. But the real remedy is the supply of batteries, on which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has recently made a helpful statement.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Will my right hon. Friend give advice to motorists who have to travel during the night that they should travel with the greatest possible care, for the safety of cyclists, which is more important than the fine?

Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward

Is it not almost entirely for the cyclists' own protection that they are made to carry lamps; and is it not in their own interests that they should be fined if they do not carry them?

Mr. Morrison

There is a considerable element of risk to the cyclist in not carrying a lamp, I agree.