HC Deb 10 May 1948 vol 450 cc1834-42
Mr. Manningham-Buller

I beg to move, in page 3, line 13, at the end, to insert: Provided that it shall be a defence for any person charged with the offence mentioned in paragraph (a) hereof to satisfy the Court that the commercial petrol was put into the pump by mistake and not with the intent of procuring the misuse of petrol, and that it shall be a defence for any person charged with the offence mentioned in paragraph (b) hereof to satisfy the Court that it might reasonably be true that he genuinely believed that the vehicle was not a private motor vehicle. This is an important Amendment and one of substance. We feel the creation of new criminal offences carrying heavy penalties is also important, but this one is perhaps more important than some we have been discussing. It will be seen that under this Clause everyone who is not caught out by Clauses 1 and 2 is collected here and, what is more, any one who puts commercial petrol into a pump used for the purpose of the supply by retail of motor spirit, not being a pump marked in the prescribed manner should be guilty of an offence.

This Clause is different from Clauses 1 and 2, because there is no provision giving a defence to anyone other than a person authorised by the Minister of Fuel and Power or the Petroleum Board. In the previous Clauses there have been provisos providing a defence for a man who has acted innocently and carefully, and who has yet found himself in a difficulty. Here there is no proviso, and what we suggest is that the words of this Amendment should be added and that this proviso should be incorporated in the Bill: Provided that it shall be a defence for any person charged with the offence mentioned in paragraph (a)"— that is putting petrol into a wrong pump— to satisfy the court that the commercial petrol was put into the pump by mistake and not with the intent of procuring the misuse of petrol. Further, we suggest that it shall be a defence for any person charged under paragraph (b)—that is, putting commercial petrol into a private motor car tank— to satisfy the court that it might reasonably be true that he genuinely believed that the vehicle was not a private motor vehicle. So far as paragraph (a) is concerned, I suggest that there should be provision for a case of bona fide mistakes. Unless that provision is made, proof of the facts as stated in paragraph (a) is sufficient and the man is convicted. So far as an offence created under paragraph (b) is concerned, the terms of the Amendment might, in view of what the Attorney-General said earlier, require some slight alterations to conform to his views, but that is merely a matter of drafting. Here, again, I suggest one must have a provision for dealing with a case where the garage attendant, in all innocence—misled, tricked or by a fraud—is induced to put the wrong petrol into a particular car. He should not be convicted automatically, and it is for this reason that the second part of the Amendment is inserted.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I support this Amendment because it seems to me that this Clause is one of the most astonishing in the Bill. It is quite plainly one of absolute liability. There is no attempt to qualify the liability in any way whatever. We are not here dealing with a question of onus of proof or balance of probability. If anyone does any of the things referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) of this Clause, his responsibility is absolute and he can put forward no defence of any kind whatever. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) has referred to paragraphs (a) and (b), but I would like to say something further about paragraph (b). I asked a question on an earlier Clause with a view to discovering whether it was intended that garage hands should be included in the Clause, and the Attorney-General clearly indicated that it was the intention of the Government to catch garage hands. If this Clause becomes law as it now stands, any garage hand who puts commercial petrol into the tank of a private car, without any possibility of his being able to set up any defence whatsoever—

The Chairman

The Amendment appears to deal only with paragraph (a).

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

And it also deals with (b)—

The Chairman

Yes, the hon. Gentleman is in Order.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The Amendment deals with paragraph (a) to begin with, and then deals with paragraph (b) separately, and it is only in regard to paragraph (b) that I desire to address the Committee. As I was saying, under that paragraph an absolute liability is placed on a garage hand who puts commercial petrol into the tank of a private car. I do not want to cook up all sorts of imaginary circumstances, in which a garage hand might inadvertently put petrol of the wrong kind into the wrong car, but I think it would be recognised in all parts of the Committee that it is a thing which might occasionally happen quite easily, by inadvertence, in any garage.

I can easily imagine circumstances in which a man is talking to a friend or otherwise permitting his mind to wander—

Mr. Follick (Loughborough)

Some friend!

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

It may be that the hon. Member's imagination does not go as far as I have just indicated. If he has never done anything of that sort by inadvertence, I can only say he deserves the respect of all Members of the community. For my part I am quite certain a mistake in this respect could easily be made. What is unfair is to preclude anyone from putting forward the plea that he has made a mistake. I will not say it might not be reasonable to cast a very heavy burden of proof on the garage hand who has made such a mistake to show that it was made by inadvertance, or otherwise in excusable circumstances, but my complaint is that this Clause gives the garage hand no right whatever.

Immediately the facts are proved against him of putting the wrong petrol in the wrong tank, the court cannot even hear him put forward a plea in mitigation. In those circumstances I would ask the Government, if they are not prepared to accept the Amendment in our precise terms, to leave the matter open to the garage hand or some such person in charge of the pump to show that there might be innocent circumstances which would preclude him from having done what amounts to an offence under the Clause.

9.0 p.m.

The Attorney-General

I agree that, at first sight, it may appear illogical not to provide under Clause 3 the defences made available under Clauses 1 and 2. But Clause 3 is dealing with an entirely different case. In Clauses 1 and 2, we are dealing with the garage owner or a car owner who may become criminally liable for the result of what may have been the act of some third party—the man in charge of the petrol pump or the garage hand.

Clause 3, in contradistinction, deals with the person who, by his own physical act, puts the wrong petrol into the wrong pump or the wrong tank. I confess that, unlike hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, I am not sufficiently credulous to think that mistakes of this kind on the part of the person who puts the wrong petrol in the pump or tank, and also on the part of the person who receives the wrong petrol in the wrong pump or the wrong tank, are in fact very likely to occur. It seems to us to be right that in the first class of case, dealing with the situation which arises under Clauses 1 and 2, the garage owner should be entitled to say that what was done was done without his consent, or the motorist should be entitled to say that he had done all that he reasonably could to prevent the wrong petrol from being put into his tank. But when the man himself puts the wrong petrol into his tank, then we say that there is no reason for any special defence.

After all, there are a great many instances under our existing law—some of them substantial cases and some comparatively trivial—where absolute liability exists, and the offender is not allowed to come before the court and say, "It is too bad, but I made a mistake." One finds from experience that if the law does not provide that mistakes shall be allowed to constitute defences to criminal proceedings, mistakes are far less likely to occur, and that is what we think would be the result here. If garage hands and others who may be within the scope of this Clause know that it will be no defence for them to say, "Well, we made a mistake," they will be very much more careful to see that the way in which they deal with the petrol within their charge complies with the law. There is nothing novel about this. There are many other cases on the statute book.

The licensee who himself sells liquor to a person who is drunk but has all the appearance of being sober may commit a mistake. That is unfortunate, but it may be a mistake which will result in the licensee losing his licence. A married man who marries again in the belief hold in good faith that he has been divorced, nevertheless, commits bigamy, although his mistake may be based on the opinion he receives from counsel whom he took the precaution of consulting before he went through the second form of marriage. The man who assaults a police constable on duty is guilty of that serious offence, although he had no idea that the man was a police constable, still less that he was on duty at the time. Finally—because I do not want to cite a lot of cases where mistake is no defence at all—I mention this case to show the perils to which we all expose ourselves from time to time. The man who receives into his house two or more lunatics, although he does not know they are lunatics, may be held to be guilty of an offence. I am afraid that we cannot accept the Amendment.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

The case of a driver employed by the Petroleum Board who earns his livelihood by driving lorries about the country and discharging petrol into garage proprietors' petrol tanks is in no way analogous to the case of the man who receives two lunatics into his house. It is clear from what the Attorney-General has said that the man who makes an error in connecting up the pipe with the wrong tap or who allows the petrol to go into the wrong tank commits a criminal offence which renders him liable to a heavy fine, and he is not entitled to secure his acquittal if the specific act was done purely innocently and by mistake. In those circumstances we can do nothing more than show our disgust at the unnecessary harshness of this Measure for not making provision for that defence by voting in the Division Lobby.

The Attorney-General

The right hon. Gentleman may not have appreciated that it is, of course, open under this Clause for the court to dismiss the case, as no doubt it would in the circumstances contemplated by him, under the Probation of Offenders Act or with a caution. This is not one of the cases where an automatic penalty follows.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 93; Noes, 198.

Division No. 142.] AYES. [8.28 p.m.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Ganley, Mrs. C. S Porter, E. (Warrington)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Gibbins, J. Porter, G. (Leeds)
Alpass, J. H. Gibson, C. W. Proctor, W. T.
Attewell, H. C Gilzean, A. Pryde, D. J
Awbery, S. S. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Ayles, W. H. Gordon-Walker, P. C. Reeves, J.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Reid, T. (Swindon)
Bacon, Miss A. Grey, C. F. Rhodes, H.
Baird, J Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Barnes, Rt. Hon A J Guy, W. H. Robens, A.
Barstow, P G Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Barton, C. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Battley, J. R. Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Royle, C.
Bechervaise, A. E Harrison, J. Sargood, R.
Benson, G. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Sharp, Granville
Berry, H. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford) Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
Beswick, F. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Bins, G. H. C Holman, P. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C
Binns, J. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Skinnard, F. W.
Blackburn, A. R. Hoy, J. Smith, C. (Colchester)
Blyton, W. R. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Snow, J. W.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.) Solley, L. J.
Brook, D (Halifax) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Soskice, Sir Frank
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool) Sparks, J. A.
Brown, George (Belper) Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.) Stamford, W.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Janner, B. Stross, Dr. B.
Callaghan, James Jay, D. P. T. Stubbs, A. E.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Jeger, G. (Winchester) Swingler, S.
Chamberlain, R. A. Jenkins, R. H. Sylvester, G. O.
Champion, A. J Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool) Symonds, A. L.
Cluse, W. S. Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Cobb, F. A. Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Cocks, F. S. Key, C. W. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Coldrick, W. King, E. M. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Collindridge, F Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Comyns, Dr. L. Kinley, J. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Lawson, Rt. Hon J. J. Thurtle, Ernest
Corlett, Dr. J. Lee, F. (Hulme) Tiffany, S.
Crawley, A. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Titterington, M. F.
Crossman, R H. S. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Tolley, L.
Daggar, G. Longden, F. Turner-Samuels, M.
Daines, P. Lyne, A. W Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) McAdam, W. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) McEntee, V. La T Viant, S. P.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) McGhee, H. G. Walkden, E.
Deer, G McLeavy, F. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Mallalieu, J. P. W (Huddersfield) Weitzman, D.
Diamond, J. Mitchison, G. R. Wells, W T. (Walsall)
Dodds, N. N. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham E.) Wheatley, Rt. Hn. J. T. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Donovan, T. Moyle, A. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Dumpleton, C. W Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Durbin, E. F. M. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon P. J. (Derby) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Oldfield, W. H. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) Oliver, G. H. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Evans, John (Ogmore) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Pargiter, G. A. Williams, R. W. (Wigan)
Ewart, R. Parkin, B. T. Wise, Major F. J.
Fairhurst, F. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Woodburn, A.
Farthing, W. J Paton, J. (Norwich) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Follick, M. Pearson, A.
Freeman, J. (Watford) Perrins, W. Mr. Hannan and
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Popplewell, E Mr. Simmons.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Byers, Frank
Baldwin, A. E. Bracken, Rt Hon. Brendan Carson, E.
Beamish, Maj. T V. H Braithwaite, Lt. -Comdr. J. G. Channon, H.
Bossom, A. C Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Clarke, Col. R. S.
Bowen, R Butcher, H. W. Cooper-Key, E. M
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Low, A. R. W. Rayner, Brig. R.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H Reid, Rt. Hon. J S C (Hillhead)
Davidson, Viscountess Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Robinson, Roland
De la Bère, R. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Ropner, Col. L.
Dodds-Parker, A. D MacDonald, Sir M (Inverness) Sanderson, Sir F.
Drawe, C. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster) Smithers, Sir W.
Duthie, W. S. MacLeod, J. Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Maitland, Comdr. J. W Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Gage, C. Manningham-Buller, R. E Studholme, H. G.
Gammans, L. D. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Sutcliffe, H.
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Maude, J. C. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Mellor, Sir J. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Grimston, R. V. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. Thorp, Brigadier R. A F
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Turton, R. H.
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Vane, W. M. F.
Hollis, M. C. Odey, G. W. Wakefield, Sir W. W
Howard, Hon. A. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H Walker-Smith, D.
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Orr-Ewing, I. L. Wheatley, Colonel M. j. (Dorset, E.)
Hutchison, Lt. -Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.) Peto, Brig. C. H. M White, J, B. (Canterbury)
Jeffreys, General Sir G. Pickthorn, K. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Lambert, Hon. G. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Prescott, Stanley TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Legge-Bourke, Maj E. A. H Price-White, Lt-.Col. D Brigadier Mackeson and
Lipson, D. L. Raikes, H. V. Major Conant.
Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Ramsay, Maj. S
Division No. 143.] AYES. [9.7 p.m.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Baldwin, A. E. Hollis, M. C. Peto, Brig. C. H. M
Beamish, Maj. T V. H Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Pickthorn, K.
Bossom, A. C Howard, Hon. A. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Bowen, R. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.) Prescott, Stanley
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Jeffreys, General Sir G. Price-White, Lt-.Col. D
Braithwaite, Lt. -Comdr. J. G Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Raikes, H. V.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Lambert, Hon. G. Ramsay, Maj. S.
Butcher, H. W. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Rayner, Brig. R.
Byers, Frank Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C (Hillhead)
Carson, E. Lipson, D. L. Robinson, Roland
Challen, C. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Ropner, Col, L.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Low, A. R. W. Sanderson, Sir F.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Cooper-Key, E. M. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Sutcliffe, H.
Davidson, Viscountess Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
De la Bère, R. MacLeod, J. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Dodds-Parker, A. D Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F
Drewe, C. Manningham-Buller, R. E Turton, R. H.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Vane, W. M. F.
Duthie, W. S. Maude, J. C. Wakefield, Sir W W.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Mellor, Sir J. Walker-Smith, D.
Gage, C. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)
Gammans, L. D. Morris-Jones, Sir H. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Grimston, R. V. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Odey, G. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Herbert, Sir A. P O'Neill, Rt. Hon Sir H Mr. Studholme and
Brigadier Mackeson.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Deer, G. Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) de Freitas, Geoffrey Janner, B.
Alpass, J. H. Diamond, J. Jay, D. P. T.
Attewell, H. C. Dodds, N. N. Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Awbery, S. S. Donovan, T. Jenkins, R. H.
Ayles, W. H. Dumpleton, C. W Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Durbin, E. F. M. Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Bacon, Miss A. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Jones, J. H. (Bolton)
Baird, J. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Key, C. W.
Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) King, E. M.
Barstow, P G Evans, John (Ogmore) Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E
Barton, C. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Kinley, J.
Battley, J. R. Ewart, R. Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.
Bechervaise, A. E Fairhurst, F. Lee, F. (Hulme)
Benson, G. Farthing, W J. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Berry, H. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Beswick, F Follick, M. Lyne, A. W.
Bing, G. H. C. Foot, M. M. McAdam, W.
Binns, J. Freeman, J. (Watford) McEntee, V. La T
Blackburn, A. R. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T N McGhee, H. G.
Blyton, W. R. Ganley, Mrs. C. S McLeavy, F.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Gibbins, J. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Gibson, C. W. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Gilzean, A. Mitchison, G. R.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Glanville, J. E. (Conselt) Morley, R.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Gordon-Walker, P. C. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham E.)
Brown, George (Belper) Greenwood, A. W J. (Heywood) Moyle, A.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Grenfell, D. R. Nichol, Mrs M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Callaghan, James Grey, C. F. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
Castle, Mrs B. A. Griffiths, Rt. Hon J. (Llanelly) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)
Champion, A. J Guy, W. H. Oldfield, W. H.
Cluse, W. S. Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Oliver, G. H.
Cobb, F. A. Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Cocks, F. S. Hardy, E. A Pargiter, G. A.
Coldrick, W. Harrison, J. Parkin, B. T.
Collindridge, F. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Paton, Mrs. F. (Ruslcliffe)
Comyns, Dr. L. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford) Paton, J. (Norwich)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Pearson, A.
Corlett, Dr. J. Holman, P. Peart, T. F.
Crawley, A. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Perrins, W.
Crossman, R. H. S. Hoy, J. Popplewell, E.
Daggar, G. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Porter, E. (Warrington)
Daines, P. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Porter, G. (Leeds)
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.) Proctor, W. T.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Pryde, D. J
Pursey, Cmdr. H Soskice, Sir Frank Vernon, Maj W. F
Reeves, J. Sparks, J. A. Viant, S. P.
Reid, T. (Swindon) Stamford, W. Walkden, E.
Rhodes, H. Stross, Dr. B Weitzman, D.
Ridealgh, Mrs M Stubbs, A. E Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Robens, A. Swingler, S. Wheatley, Rt. Hn. J. T. (Edinb'gh, E)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Sylvester, G. O White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Symonds, A. L. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Royle, C. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Sargood, R. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Sharp, Granville Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens) Thomas, Ivor (Keighley) Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Silverman, J. (Erdington) Thomas, George (Cardiff) Williams, R. W. (Wigan)
Simmons, C. J. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton) Wise, Major F. J.
Skeffington, A. M Thurtle, Ernest Woodburn, A.
Skeffington-Lodge, T C Tiffany, S Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Skinnard, F. W. Titterington, M. F Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Smith, C. (Colchester) Tolley, L
Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Turner-Samuels, M TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Solley, L. J Ungoed-Thomas, L Mr. Snow and
Mr. George Wallace.

Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

9.15 p.m.

Major Legge-Bourke

In each of the two previous Clauses we have a proviso under which a person has the power to prove himself innocent. In this Clause there is only a proviso which says that a person authorised by the Ministry of Fuel and Power or by the Petroleum Board to enforce this Measure may be absolved from the penalties which are provided in the Bill. It is wrong that paragraphs (a) and (b) should be classed with paragraphs (c), (d) and (e). In paragraphs (a) and (b) two offences are mentioned which might conceivably be committed in error and not deliberately, but no one would suppose for a moment that the offences in paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) could be committed deliberately.

The case for trying to justify finding a person guilty for offences committed under paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) is far greater than under paragraphs (a) and (b). I would therefore ask the Attorney-General to tell us at a later stage whether he would consider putting in a proviso that persons who commit offences under paragraphs (a) and (b) are allowed to prove their innocence, whereas under paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) they are not allowed to do so.

The Chairman

The form of paragraphs (a) and (b) has already been decided by the Division which the Committee has just taken. The hon. and gallant Gentleman therefore cannot argue that point.

Major Legge-Bourke

I am trying to deal with the Clause as a whole, which I understood to be in Order at this stage. It seems to me that there is a great difference between the first two paragraphs of the Clause and the last three paragraphs, and I am suggesting to the Attorney-General that before we come to the later stage of the Bill he should look into the possibility of inserting a proviso in the Clause to make it possible for a person charged under paragraphs (a) and (b) to prove his innocence, leaving the Clause as it stands for paragraphs (c), (d) and (e), under which I do not think offences could be committed unless they were deliberate.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.