HC Deb 11 November 1943 vol 393 c1292
63. Major Conant

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the increase in thieving at the ports; and whether he is satisfied that the punishments awarded to those who are convicted are an adequate deterrent?

Mr. H. Morrison

Yes, Sir. I regret to say that the stealing of goods at the ports has increased during the war. This offence must be regarded, particularly in war time, as extremely serious and deserving of severe punishment, but I have no reason to think that the courts have not this consideration fully in mind when deciding the appropriate punishment in any particular case.

Major Conant

In view of the very great increase in wages now being paid at the docks, does the right hon. Gentleman consider that a fine represents an adequate deterrent, and does he not think that usually a sentence of imprisonment should be imposed in such cases?

Mr. Morrison

It is a matter for the court on the evidence before it, and I do not think I ought to lay down directions as to what ought to happen in these cases.

Mr. Graham White

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider substituting the word "theft" for "pilfering" in official documents?

Mr. Morrison

I will certainly consider that. It might be better understood.

Commander Locker-Lampson

Should not stevedores who are responsible for these pilferings be invited to enrol in one or other of our Forces so that they come under military law?

Mr. Morrison

I am not sure that that would be acceptable to the War Office.