HC Deb 04 December 1946 vol 431 cc458-60
Mr. Eccles

I beg to move, in page 7, line 23, to leave out "calculated," and to insert "intended by him."

With your permission, Major Milner, perhaps I may speak on this and the succeeding Amendment, namely, in line 24 to leave out "calculated," and insert "intended by him." This is one of the exploratory Amendments intended to find out what the words mean. We want to this Clause of an offence unless he had a guilty intent. It appears that a postman who handled a letter in the Post Office that contained one of these documents, which we ought not to have without permission, would be performing one of a series of acts leading to a crime, and he might be held guilty by doing so. The Amendment is designed to find words which will safeguard the position of the innocent person who performs one of the acts in the chain, but does not know when he is doing so that he is assisting in the performance of a crime. Therefore, I would like to hear from the Government their explanation of the word "calculated."

The Solicitor-General

The word "calculated" is very frequently used in Finance Acts for purposes of taxation. It is still understood in that context. I see the point, and the apprehension of the hon. Gentleman, and we should like to consider the matter. It is not intended, of course, that a person who is a completely innocent cog in a scheme, should be saddled with liability. There must be some degree of cognisance before he can be saddled with liability. As at present advised, I should be disposed to take the view that "calculated" is the word appropriate to achieve the object that we have in mind; but, having regard to the Amendment and to the apprehension voiced by the hon. Gentleman, we would like to reconsider that matter. I do not say that we shall alter it, but we shall reconsider it in the light of what has been said.

Mr. Maude (Exeter)

I think the Solicitor-General will agree, upon looking into the matter, that "calculated" simply means "likely." The courts have already taken that view, in the Townley case in the House of Lords. When he comes to examine it I think the Solicitor-General will find that it is not a mere exploratory word, but that it is likely to get someone in, whom the Solicitor-General does not want in.

Mr. Eccles

In view of the assurance we have received from the Solicitor-General, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 12, 13 and 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.