HC Deb 03 May 1949 vol 464 cc921-40
The Solicitor-General

I beg to move, in page 53, line 39, to leave out "the Minister or by."

This Amendment gives effect to proposals made by hon. Gentlemen opposite during the Committee stage, and puts it in the power of the Director of Public Prosecutions and not in the power of the Minister to institute prosecutions. As the Clause stands, either could consent to or authorise the institution of proceedings. We are now excluding the Minister and vesting that function solely in the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Lyttelton

I beg to move, in page 54, line 1, to leave out from "corporate," to the end of line 10, and to insert: and is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any negligence on the part of, any director, general manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate he, as well as the body corporate, shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. The object of this Amendment is to shift the onus of proof to establish the guilt of a person from the person concerned and to make it unnecessary for that person to prove his innocence. Similar Amendments have been rejected in the case of other nationalisation Measures. The Government have maintained the attitude that in certain cases in connection with other Measures it is necessary for the person to prove his innocence and have accordingly retained the provision. Where those Amendments have been resisted in the past, and where the persons concerned have to prove their innocence, there is a presumption from the nature of the case that the person in question is guilty, but in this particular case there is no such presumption, because it deals with such matters as the giving of false information by a company.

8.0 p.m.

If a company gives false information, it is probable that it was given by some official or other, and, therefore, there is no presumption that the other officials or directors of the company knew that the information was false. Yet under this Clause it is necessary for all the directors or officials concerned to prove their innocence. This seems to be carrying the principle, of which I am not very enamoured in any case, much too far. It is one thing to say that if an individual is required to do something and has not done it, he has got to prove the reasons which led him to refuse to take that action, but when we get into the realm of corporate bodies and make it necessary for all the officials and the directors to prove their innocence it seems to me to be carrying what is not a very agreeable principle into the area where it becomes positively vicious.

The Solicitor-General

This is a controversial matter which has been very frequently discussed before, and indeed has arisen on the occasion of a number of Measures which have been passed by this Parliament, and I have defended the Clause in the form in which it stands at present. The defence that I put forward is that the director, under the terms of the Clause, is put in this position: if the prosecution establish in the first place, the onus being on them to do so, that a corporation or a company has committed an offence against this Measure, the director then is responsible unless he can show, the onus being on him to do so, that he did not consent or connive at the offence, and furthermore that, having regard to all the circumstances, he exercised all reasonable diligence to prevent its commission. That is the position in which the director is placed.

The justification for putting the director in that position is this: if an offence has been committed by a corporation, it is quite easy to prove that the corporation has committed it. The evidence is generally to hand. It depends on what the offence is but, generally speaking, the evidence is to hand and the prosecuting authority can go to the court, can employ that evidence and get to the stage of showing that the corporation has committed the offence. But then, unless we have a Clause in this form it is, generally speaking, almost impossible to take the next step, and establish affirmatively any responsibility on the part of the directors if the onus of showing complicity by the directors is left on the prosecution.

Therefore, in considering the Clause one has to take these steps. First, one has to ask oneself whether the directors are criminally responsible if they have been guilty of complicity in the commission of the offence by the corporation. I think all hon. Members would say "yes" at once in answer to that question, on the assumption that there has been complicity. I feel there could be no controversy about that. Then the controversial question arises whether the onus should be on them to extricate themselves from complicity, or whether it should be upon the prosecution to implicate them.

The reasons which I urge in support of the view that it should be upon the directors to extricate themselves are these. In the first place, it is, in practice, next to impossible to show affirmatively that a director was implicated. The domestic arrangements of the company are within its own knowledge, and it is difficult and, indeed, almost impossible for an extraneous authority to penetrate into the internal arrangements of the company and ascertain the knowledge and procure the evidence to establish affirmatively that a director was involved.

Therefore, unless one has a Clause in this form, generally speaking directors who are morally in every sense of the word guilty in a particular case will escape conviction. That, I believe, is a position, which hon. Members will agree with me, ought not to obtain. If directors are morally guilty they ought to be criminally responsible, as the corporation is. If they are to be made criminally responsible, and if it is to be made possible to prosecute them and establish their guilt, the onus must be taken off the prosecution and placed upon them in certain respects.

Assuming that is right, have we placed upon them an unfair onus? Have we loaded them with too heavy a load and placed upon them a burden of establishing their innocence which they cannot reasonably be expected to shoulder? We feel that we have not. What we have done is to say to the director, "You being a person who, in relation to this company, not only in the eye of the law but in the eye of the business man and in commonsense, has a special responsibility towards it, you being a person who runs its affairs and who cannot fairly or morally wash your hands of its proceedings, you are to be responsible unless you can show in the first place that you did not connive or consent to the commission of the offence." Surely that is reasonable.

One must then go a little further to make the thing effective. A director may perfectly well shut his eyes to the commission of an offence. It might in some circumstances be right in that case to hold him to be conniving at it, but he might place himself in a position in which he has no knowledge of the commission of the offence. He might absent himself during a particular board meeting, or he might turn a blind eye so that he could truthfully say "I did not know it." If all he has got to say is that he did not connive or consent to the commission of the offence, all he has to do is so to arrange affairs that he does not know about it. That would enable directors over and over again to escape responsibility when they should, in fact, be under the responsibility.

Therefore, we place this further requirement upon directors. We say, not only must he show that he did not consent or connive, but he must also show that, having regard to a commonsense point of view, …he exercised all such diligence to prevent the commission of the offence as he ought to have exercised having regard to the nature of his functions in that capacity and to all the circumstances. We say that he must show not only that he did not know but that in all the circumstances, having regard to the factual position that he occupied with regard to that company, having regard to the part which he was recognised as taking in its affairs—because a director may be a person who takes a very slight part in its affairs—and having regard to the position of authority which he occupied in that company, he did what he could to prevent the commission of the offence. That means not that he must have done everything conceivably possible, but that he took all reasonable precautions to see that it did not take place. That is what we have done, and I hope the House will agree, in these circumstances, that we have not been unreasonable, and, what is more important, that we have not been unfair.

I am simply saying that this is not an innovation. Going far back in our legislation, many years before the war, the principle has been accepted that the onus can be put upon the director. This particular form of Clause, which we think much fairer and better than other Clauses which have been used, has been devised in this Parliament, and we think it less onerous on the directors than some Clauses which have previously been used, and we feel that it is fair as it stands. There are many precedents for it, and this Parliament during its existence has over and over again approved Clauses in this form. Therefore, I submit that having regard to the reasons that there are to justify it in principle, it cannot be said that there is any ground now for departing from a well-established precedent which has now found a place in our law. I accordingly ask the House to reject the Amendment.

Mr. H. Strauss

Are the precedents to which the Solicitor-General alludes precedents where the offence is like that which we find in Clause 53, namely, one of giving information with certain knowledge?

The Solicitor-General

There are a whole variety of offences and a long list of Acts which I have frequently read out, but I do not think the House would wish me to read them out again. There are all sorts of offences up and down these Acts to which the Clause in question is made applicable.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

I enter the ground on which the Solicitor-General has been treading with very great fear and trepidation, and only very humbly put myself up against the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument on an issue of this kind. There are one or two things he said which I find very difficult to reconcile with the attitude of the ordinary layman. The Clause, as drafted, contravenes the cherished principle that a man is to be considered innocent until proved guilty. The Solicitor-General says that there are many cases, going back into the past, where the onus has successfully been put on a director to prove his innocence. I should like to have some particulars, because this is news to me. This certainly has not been incorporated, so far as I know, in the Companies Act, and it is not a recognised principle in commercial life. It may be that in the recesses of the statute there are things of this kind, but they are certainly not appreciated by the ordinary man in business.

The Solicitor-General said that a director could quite well put himself into the position of not knowing what was going on, but how can that possibly take place without an accusation being successfully held against him? We had all this argument yesterday in connection with another Clause, that somehow a man could be isolated from the Bill and maintain that he had no knowledge of what was going on. [Interruption.] I do not know why Members opposite, none of whom ever seek to take part in the Debate but sit here by way of amusement because they can think of nothing else to do, are so concerned that we should proceed over-hastily in this matter. We are very anxious to establish that not only the Corporation but a director, or some other person engaged in the Corporation, should be considered innocent until proved guilty. The Solicitor-General comes along and says it is quite easy to ascertain that a publicly-owned company under this Bill is engaged in some action that is contrary to the statute, and that that can be proved. But when we get as far as the office of the company, it is then impossible to go any further. The directors, officials and managers are very difficult to locate; they are slippery and out of the picture, and no fault can be pinned on them.

If the evidence is so slender that to establish a case the whole cherished principle has to be reversed so that these people have to prove their innocence, then it must be very slender evidence indeed. Looking at the thing metaphorically, there is no case for the Director of Public Prosecutions to take action against the Corporation, if it has committed an offence, and then to instruct his men, when they get as far as the office of the Corporation, to hold their hands because it is impossible to go any further and bring the directors into court. Having established that the Corporation have committed some wrongful act, then we should proceed against the Corporation and all those connected with it. I do not like the explanation the Solicitor-General has given, and I am sure we shall be perfectly right in voting in favour of this Amendment.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Frank Byers (Dorset, Northern)

The Solicitor-General seemed to say that although the normal principle in this country was to assume a man innocent until proved guilty, in this case he felt we should reverse the procedure. To what extent are the Government prepared to abide by the Charter of Human Rights? In December the Government signed that Charter, and one of the principles in it was that a man should be presumed innocent until proved guilty. Presumably the Government were serious in their intentions when signing that Charter, and legislation thereafter, no matter what had happened up to that time, should be in accordance with the principles of that Charter. The Solicitor-General presumably knows that this is one of the principles in that Charter, and that it is going to have very important international results. To what extent are we, as the House of Commons, prepared in these circumstances to make an exception only four months after the signing of the Charter which embodies this principle?

Mr. Harrison (Nottingham, East)

If I understood the Solicitor-General correctly, he tried to prove that collectively the Corporation had been proved guilty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Presumed guilty."] Substantially proved guilty.

The Solicitor-General

The corporation has to be proved guilty in the first place.

Mr. Harrison

Having proved that the corporation are guilty collectively, I think my right hon. and learned Friend wants to allocate the blame for any misdemeanour, which is the whole point of this Clause. In those circumstances, I cannot understand the argument of Members opposite.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre (New Forest and Christchurch)

Having heard the Solicitor-General answering Debates on this question many times, I thought that his new excuse for promulgating this kind of Clause was quite the weakest I have heard. He now says it may well be that the Corporation will commit some offence under this Bill, and, therefore, once we have established the offence, we are going to presume that the directors are guilty. That is a remarkable denial of justice. Whatever may be the responsibility of the directors, the only people who will benefit from any offence are the Corporation. Why make the directors guilty? An hon. Member opposite says, "They should be"—

Mr. W. R. Williams (Heston and Isleworth)

No, I said "Who should be?"

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

The Solicitor-General is merely erecting a figure of straw to shoot at. Let us assume that a corporation wishes to evade the requirements of this Bill. What will it do? It will appoint nominee directors who are men of straw, who will not be able to pay any fine when called upon to do so by the Government. The Clause as drafted does nothing to defend the rights and privileges which the Government wish to assume; it is merely a piece of class hatred.

The Solicitor-General

indicated dissent.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

What are directors? They are merely people who represent a company or corporation after having been elected to manage the affairs of that company or corporation. They may make a right or wrong decision, but the last thing that those who have elected those directors want is to see them singled out in order to bear the penalties of their decision. The Solicitor-General knows that in the last few weeks the Minister of Fuel and Power has had to admit that the development of the electricity industry has been held up for 18 months because a Clause similar to this was put into the Electricity Act. It put upon directors of electricity industries exactly the same penalties as are imposed here. All that happened was that every director said, "I shall do nothing." I know there is an escape Clause, whereby one can write to the Minister and get his permission to carry on, but what has happened in the case of the Electricity Act will happen to good directors coming under this Bill. Development will be stopped and national recovery will be handicapped. Those people whom the Solicitor-General is trying to catch under this Clause will outwit him every time.

The only thing the Government are doing is to introduce, once again, a piece of class prejudice towards private enterprise. What they may expect to receive if somebody cheats is nothing. Instead of trying to stand by a flowery Clause like this it would be far better for the Government to say that directors are responsible people, who will not cheat. If there is a company which does cheat, then it is the company which does that and not the directors. All that the Clause does is to seek cheap applause from the Government back benches.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

Is it clear that the hon. and gallant Member for New Forest and Christchurch (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre) anticipates that directors and executive personnel who will be involved in this matter will be guilty. To demonstrate his weak case the hon. and gallant Member talked a lot of nonsense about class hatred. What this has to do with class hatred I do not know.

Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)

It is only Tories who talk about it.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

This is the position which is bound to arise under this legislation: if there is a body corporate which, inevitably, must act by some executive hand, and that body has done something in contravention of the Clause, the Government cannot go for the body corporate. They have to go for a person, and that person can only be a director or one of the executives mentioned in the Clause. It is said that according to the principles of our law a person is presumed to be innocent until he is found to be guilty. That, of course, is a sacrosanct principle which nobody would seek to weaken, but where is it weakened by the provisions of this Clause? This is not a case of a person committing an offence; it is a case of a body corporate committing an offence by giving false information. Who must be made responsible?

Supposing we did what this fatuous Amendment seeks to do—make the prosecution prove that the director or executive person has been guilty. How on earth is the prosecution going to do that? The company has committed something which is fraudulent and false, and the director and the executive are responsible for the conduct of this company's business. If the director has deliberately or by negligence, allowed this to take place, he is responsible, and if he is not he should tell the court why. Any other method would be absolutely impracticable. Therefore there is no question of the subject's liberty at all. The amount of lip-service to that doctrine that comes from the other side of the House has no relation to reality at all, because if it had we should not hear of it.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke)

Now hon. Members opposite are getting their answer—[Interruption]—

Mr. Byers rose

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I have not the time to give way—

Mr. Stokes

Give the Liberal Party a chance.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I must say that the noble Lord the Member for East Dorset had such a strong case that he really did not know what matter he was talking about—

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

May I point out that the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) has directed his criticism exactly half way between the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) and myself. I being the Member for South Dorset.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

It shows how hollow was the whole case of the noble Lord who got up to talk about something when he was not quite sure what was the case to which he was addressing himself. I do not blame him for the misadventure of not knowing the case he had to put, but to stand up and pretend to argue in favour of it was to my mind absolutely insincere. The matter falls within a very small compass. The point is—is it conceded that information should be given? That is the first point. The second point is—if it is to be given, is true information to be given?

Mr. Ellis Smith

That applies particularly to lawyers.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

If false information is given, who on earth is to be responsible? It cannot physically be the body corporate itself. It might properly be a director or some executive officer, and that person is saved if he can prove, when charged, that he is absolutely innocent and not responsible for the act.

Mr. H. Strauss

When a point of law is becoming comparatively clear in this House it is often covered with the utmost confusion by the intervention of the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels). I have a serious point which I wish to put to the right hon. and learned Solicitor-General. I apologise because I was not in the House at the beginning of this discussion and I missed some of the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The general effect of his speech, I think—I do not think I am misrepresenting him and he will correct me if I am wrong—is that he said that there is ample precedent—and it is indeed a necessary practice—when an offence is brought home to a limited liability company for transferring the onus of proof as regards the liability of directors and officers of that company. That is to say, when it is once established that a company has committed an offence, certain officers of the company shall be presumed to share a criminal liability until they establish their innocence. I agree with him in the proposition that there are many precedents for that.

What I find very difficult to do is to construe the two particular Clauses here together, Clause 53 and Clause 54. Clause 53 defines the offence, a necessary element in which is the knowledge of the falsity of the statement in a material particular. It states: If any person in…making any claim or giving any notice…makes any statement which he knows to be false.… In the case of a limited liability company for "he" we have to imagine a company throughout. There has to be that guilty knowledge in the company. I am now considering the offence under Clause 53. But how on earth is that proved in every case before there is a liability on the director under Clause 54?

Under Clause 54 the presumption can apply where there is no such guilty knowledge. It is really extremely difficult to construe the two Clauses together. That is the reason for the question I put at the end of the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. If the Clause creating the offence is something that has a perfectly easy test—say, supplying milk which has been diluted—and a limited liability company has done that, it is quite possible to say that, that offence having clearly been brought home to the limited liability company, the directors may have to clear themselves. But the offence set out in Clause 53 is not an offence of that kind at all. It is an offence which itself has an element of guilty knowledge in it. In those circumstances I believe that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, with the numerous precedents which he has found, did not completely cover the present case. I think that he will also find that the words suggested in this Amendment will generally be satisfactory to him.

It was curious that when the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester was speaking, he described what he thought was satisfactory and mentioned almost precisely the words of the Amendment. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will reconsider this Clause. There is another Amendment to the Clause to be considered later, but I hope that he will particularly consider whether his main decision upon the Clause we are now considering is really correct. In my submission it is not, because there is no satisfaction of the prior condition of proving an offence by the limited liability company itself.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

As a layman, I am astounded at the lack of knowledge which the legal men in this House show about the laws of this country. That remark applies to the Front Bench as well. The legal men when they are in court are always on the wrong side. They are at the dispensing end, and not at the receiving end, so that they do not have the same opportunity of knowing how the law operates. I wish to ask hon. Members opposite if it is not the case that the law has operated in the manner set out in this Clause, time and again, without the slightest protest of any kind from any of them.

I was the chairman of a committee which owned a paper, "The Worker," up in Glasgow. The editor of the paper published an article which I had never seen. The editor was arrested, and I was arrested and I got 12 months, as art and part, utterly regardless of whether I was innocent or guilty so far as knowledge of the article was concerned. [Interruption.] Do not hon. Members know anything about "art and part"? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, I served 12 months. Hon. and right hon. Members on the other side should try to understand and appreciate the attitude of hon. Members on this side towards this point. We have always had inscribed on our banners "Rent is Robbery, Profit is Plunder." So far as directors of companies are concerned, in our opinion already they are guilty. It is only a matter of finding a suitable pretext, and in they go. Once we get them in, they will have very great difficulty in getting out.

Mr. Lyttelton

When all the directors of companies are put inside, one thing will be clear, and that is that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) will be almost alone on those benches. I look around and I see, except on the Front Bench—[Interruption.] Well, they may go inside as well as the hon. Member himself. Except for Members on the Front Bench, who are excluded from holding offices of profit under the Crown, almost everybody on that side is a director of some company or other, and the hon. Gentleman will be very lonesome.

I should like to make two short points. The Solicitor-General, in opposing the Amendment, said it was a highly controversial matter. I submit that, where a matter is highly controversial and the pros and cons are keenly disputed, it always ought to be decided by the people having to be proved guilty by the prosecution rather than they themselves having to prove their innocence. If we say that the matter is highly controversial, we are condemning these people before it is proved. Secondly, there are some extremely naïve ideas put forward by some hon. and learned Gentlemen who from time to time are briefed by these companies. We are led to believe that companies do things which nobody else can ascertain, and even the Solicitor-General has said that where companies do things we cannot attach any blame to any individual. Has he not heard that corn-panics keep minutes which are open to inspection?

Mr. Turner-Samuels

Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that a person is going to put down in the minutes the fact that he has given false information?

Mr. Lyttelton

No. If it is not in the minutes, it is very unlikely that the director gave the information. It may have been the accountant or somebody else. In any case, it is not at all difficult for him to prove, because there must be a document and some officials with knowledge of it. The hon. and learned Gentleman talks about limited companies as if they were a sort of razor gang on Brighton racecourse. [Interruption.] That is not how the hon. and learned Gentleman describes them. Of course, he did not say that. I am saying that the hon. and learned Gentleman treated limited companies as if they were razor gangs on Brighton racecourse and it was extremely difficult to say who slashed whom. Limited companies are not like that. Where the actions of a company are concerned, the directors have to be aware of them, and really this is one of the most curious legal arguments which I have heard in the last four years—and that is saying something. But when the Solicitor-General says that it is highly controversial whether a person should be presumed to be innocent before he is proved to be guilty, then I think the argument ought to come down on the side

of the individual, and we shall certainly divide the House on this Amendment.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'and,' in line 6, stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 300; Noes, 135.

Division No. 124.] AYES [8.46 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Kinley, J.
Albu, A. H. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Kirby, B. V.
Allen, A. C (Bosworth) Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly) Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D
Alpass, J. H. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Lang, G.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) Lavers, S.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Attewell, H. C. Evans, John (Ogmore) Leonard, W.
Austin, H. Lewis Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Leslie, J. R.
Awbery, S. S Ewart, R. Levy, B. W.
Ayles, W. H. Fairhurst, F. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Farthing, W. J. Lewis, J. (Bolton)
Bacon, Miss A. Field, Capt. W. J. Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Balfour, A. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A J Follick, M. Logan, D. G.
Barstow, P. G. Foot, M. M. Lyne, A. W
Barton, C. Forman, J. C. McAdam, W.
Battley, J. R. Fraser, T. (Hamilton) McAllister, G.
Bechervaise, A. E Freeman, John (Watford) McGhee, H. G
Benson, G. Gaitskell, Rt Hon. H T N McGovern, J.
Beswick, F. Gallacher, W. Mack, J. D.
Bing, G. H. C Ganley, Mrs. C S McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Binns, J. Gibbins, J Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)
Blackburn, A. R Gibson, C. W. McKinlay, A. S.
Blenkinsop, A Gilzean, A. McLeavy, F.
Boardman, H. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Bottomley, A. G. Gooch, E. G. Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Bowden, Fig. Offr. H. W. Goodrich, H. E. Mainwaring, W. H.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge) Greenwood, A. W J. (Heywood) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Grenfell, D. R Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)
Bramall., E. A. Grey, C. F. Mann, Mrs. J.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Grierson, E. Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Guest, Dr. L. Haden Mathers, Rt. Hon. George
Brown, George (Belper) Gunter, R J. Mayhew, C. P.
Brown, T. J (Ince) Guy, W. H Medland, H. M.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Hale, Leslie Mellish., R. J.
Burke, W. A. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil Middleson, Mrs. L
Callaghan, James Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Mikardo, Ian
Carmichael, James Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R
Castle, Mrs. B. A Hardman, D. R. Mitchison, G. R.
Chetwynd, G. R. Hardy, E. A. Moody, A. S.
Cluse, W. S Harrison, J. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Cobb, F. A. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Cocks, F. S. Haworth, J Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Lewisham, E.)
Collick, P Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Kingswinford) Mort, D. L.
Collindridge, F Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Moyle, A.
Collins, V. J. Hicks, G. Murray, J. D.
Colman, Miss G. M Holman, P. Naylor, T. E.
Comyns, Dr. L. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Neal, H. (Claycross)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Horabin, T L Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Corlett, Dr. J. Hoy, J. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Cove, W. G. Hubbard, T. Noel-Baker, Capt. F E. (Brentford)
Crawley, A. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W) Oldfield, W. H.
Crossman, R. H. S Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Oliver, G. H
Cullen, Mrs. Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton [...]W.) Orbach, M.
Daggar, G. Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Paget, R. T.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Isaacs, Rt. Hon, G. A. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Janner, B. Palmer, A. M. F.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Jay, D. P. T. Pargiter, G. A.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Parker, J.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Jenkins, R. H. Parkin, B. T.
Deer, G. John, W. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Johnston, Douglas Paton, J. (Norwich)
Diamond, J. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool) Pearson, A.
Dobbie, W. Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Perrins, W.
Donovan, T. Jones, Jack (Bolton) Popplewell E.
Driberg, T. E. N. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Porter, E. (Warrington)
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Kenyon, C. Porter, G. (Leeds)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E. Price, M. Philips
Proctor, W. T. Smith, C. (Colchester) Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Pryde, D. J. Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Warbey, W. N.
Pursey, Comdr. H Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Watkins, T. E.
Randall, H. E. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.) Webb, M. (Bradford, C)
Ranger, J. Solley, L. J. Weitzman, D.
Rankin, J. Sorensen, R. W Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Rees-Williams, D. R Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frans Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Reeves, J. Sparks, J. A West, D. G.
Reid, T. (Swindon) Steele, T. Wheatley, Rt. Hn. J. T. (Edinb'gh. E.)
Rhodes, H. Stokes, R. R. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Whiteley, Rt. Hon W
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Strauss, Rt. Hon G R (Lambeth) Wigg, George
Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Stross, Dr. B Wilkes, L.
Robinson, K. (St. Pancras) Swingler, S. Wilkins, W A
Rogers, G. H. R. Sylvester, G. O Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Symonds, A. L. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Royle, C. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Sargood, R. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Scollan, T. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Scott-Elliot, W. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Segal, Dr. S. Thomas, George (Cardiff) Willis, E.
Shackleton, E. A. A Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Wise, Major F. J.
Sharp, Granville Thomas, John R. (Dover) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A
Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Thurtle, Ernest Wyatt, W.
Shurmer, P. Timmons, J. Yates, V. F
Silkin, Rt. Hon. L Turner-Samuels, M Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Silverman, J. (Erdington) Ungoed-Thomas, L. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Usborne, Henry Zilliacus, K
Simmons, C. J. Vernon, Maj. W F
Skeffington, A. M. Viant, S. P. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Skeffington-Lodge, T. C Walker, G. H Mr. Snow and Mr. George Wallace.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Astor, Hon. M. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Peto, Brig. C. H. M
Baldwin., A. E Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pickthorn, K.
Barlow, Sir J. Hogg, Hon. Q. Ponsonby, Col. C. E
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J Price-While, Lt.-Col. D
Bennett, Sir P. Hurd, A. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Birch, Nigel Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Raikes, H. V.
Boothby, R. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Ramsay, Maj. S.
Bossom, A. C. Jeffreys, General Sir G. Rayner, Brig. R.
Bower, N. Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H Renton, D.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Lambert, Hon. G. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Lancaster, Col. C. G Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Langford-Holt, J. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Ropner, Col. L.
Butcher, H. W. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Scott Lord W.
Byers, Frank Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Shepherd, S. (Newark)
Challen, C. Linstead, H. N. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G Lucas, Major Sir J. Snadden, W. M.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Lucas-Tooth, S. H. Spearman, A. C. M.
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Strauss, Henry (English Universities)
Cuthbert, W. N. McCallum, Maj. D. Studholme, H. G.
Darling, Sir W. Y. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S Sutcliffe, H
Davidson, Viscountess McFarlane, C. S. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Dodds-Parlor, A. D. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Drayson, G. B Manningham-Buller, R. E Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Drewe, C. Marlowe, A. A. H. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Marsden, Capt. A. Thorp, Brigadier R A. F
Eccles, D. M. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Touche, G. C.
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Marshall, S. H. (Sutton) Vane, W. M. F.
Fox, Sir G. Maude, J. C. Wadsworth, G.
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone) Mellor, Sir J. Walker-Smith, D.
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. Ward, Hon. G. R
Galbraith, Cmdr, T. D. (Pollok) Morris, Napkin (Carmarthen) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)
Gates, Maj. E. E. Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S (Cirencester) While, Sir D. (Fareham)
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E White, J. B. (Canterbury)
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Mullan, Lt. C. H. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Glyn, Sir R. Neven-Spence, Sir B. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Nicholson, G. York, C.
Granville, E. (Eye) Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Grimston R. V. Odey, G. W.
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) O'Neill, Rt. Hon Sir H TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Commander Agnew and
Brigadier Mackeson.
Mr. Lyttelton

I beg to move, in page 54, line 6, to leave out "and," and to insert "or."

We have traversed a lot of the ground of this Amendment on the previous one, and if the Government will accept this Amendment they will do something to mitigate the effects of the Clause. If the word "and" is changed to the word "or" the person required to prove his innocence would have only to prove one of two alternatives, that the offence was committed without his consent or connivance, or that he had exercised diligence to prevent it. I do not want to go all over these arguments again, and I hope the Government will give us this little bit of cold comfort to make up for their uncompromising attitude over guilt and innocence in the previous Amendment.

The Solicitor-General

I deployed the arguments against this Amendment when I was answering the previous one. I can, I think, go over them very shortly indeed. If the defence were made alternative, it would be the easiest thing in the world for a director always to escape responsibility by resorting to the simple expedient of staying away at the crucial time. He could then perfectly well say that he had established one of the alternative defences, namely, that he had not consented to or connived at the commission of the offence. Were we to accept the Amendment we should then completely nullify the effect of the Clause, and there would be no point in having it at all if it were one so easy of evasion. For those reasons I hope the House will agree that this Amendment ought to be rejected.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman if he will look at line 6? He will see the words without his consent or connivance and that he exercised all such diligence.… We seek to alter the word "and" to the word "or." How would the case arise of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke, of the director's always being away at the crucial time? He would not necessarily have to be present in any case. It does not seem to me that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's supposition bears investigation.

The Solicitor-General

If the man is out of the way he would neither have consented nor connived.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

How? How would he not? He has to prove he is out of the way.

Amendment negatived.