HC Deb 10 May 1948 vol 450 cc1894-6
The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 10, line 36, to leave out "reference," and to insert "references."

There are five Amendments to this Clause, and I think it would be convenient to the Committee if they were taken together. The Amendments are necessary to complete the application of the Clause in respect of Northern Ireland.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 10, line 36, after "to," insert "England and Wales and to."

In line 37, leave out "a reference" and insert "references to Northern Ireland and."

In line 38, at end, insert "respectively."

In line 45, at end, add: and the reference in that section to the Roads Act, 1920, shall be construed as a reference to that Act as it applies in Northern Ireland."—[The Attorney-General.]

Clause as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, considered.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major-Milner)

There is only one Amendment, and that is in the name of the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke). I regret to say that Mr. Speaker has not selected it.

Major Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

Would it be possible for you, Sir, to say why the Amendment has not been selected?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It is not usual for Mr. Speaker to give his reasons for not selecting an Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."—[The Attorney-General.]

12.10 a.m.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

We have had a long discussion in Committee, and I do not propose to speak at any length on the Third Reading, except to say this. It is true that the Government have accepted a number of Amendments that we put forward, and we think—and presumably they agree—that these Amendments have improved the Bill. On the other hand, there are a number of Amendments which they have refused to accept, and as of course they were perfectly entitled to do. We on this side believe that the black market should be suppressed. There is no difference between the two sides of the House on that matter. Where we differ is that we believe some of the provisions of this Bill may result in creating hardship in cases in which it is possible that the man concerned is innocent, and we shall maintain that point of view as long as we can. In addition to that, we believe that the remarks of the Attorney-General in the Debate fully reinforce the arguments we put forward on the Second Reading, and we believe that this Bill still remains as we described it then, essentially the product of people who have a police State mentality.

12.12 a.m.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth

Before we part with the Bill, I would like to make one suggestion, which concerns the ingredients to be prescribed for distinguishing commercial petrol. On these ingredients depends the effectiveness or otherwise of this Measure. In addition to the colouring matter and the chemical matter, may I suggest that consideration be given to adding something that would give off a bad odour. That would have the double advantage of making detection more easy and—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

There is nothing about odour in the Bill.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

With great respect, the Bill starts off by requiring ingredients to be prescribed. I am only suggesting that, if the Government were to prescribe an ingredient which would give off a bad odour, it would make detection more easy and be more in consonance with the spirit of this Bill.

12.13 a.m.

Major Legge-Bourke

The part of this Bill which I dislike most is Clause 3, in which are grouped together offences which may be committed accidentally and those which, if committed at all, would obviously have been committed deliberately. I drew the attention of the Attorney-General to that in Committee, and I hope that in another place it may be possible for something to be done to make it more equitable in the cases of those who have committed offences accidentally under Subsection (1, a and b). This is one of those Bills which in any democratic country raises that awkward point that there are certain offences which need the methods of tyranny to put them down. There is only one way of obviating the need for this Bill, and that is for the supply of petrol to be sufficient. But I think this Bill will forever be damned for the reason that the onus of proof is placed on the offender to prove his innocence. I maintain that that is contrary to our traditions in this country, and I hope it will be very much the exception to the rule in any other legislation brought in by this Government.