HC Deb 22 June 1951 vol 489 cc869-70

Lords Amendment: In page 4, line 30, at the end, insert:

3&4Will. 4. c. 90. The Lighting and Watching Act, 1833. Section fifty.

11.6 a.m.

Mr. Lionel Heald (Chertsey)

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The Amendment relates to an Act of Parliament, The Lighting and Watching Act, 1833, the existence of which was discovered by an industrious person in the other place. It should have found its place among the other 40 Statutes in the Schedule. I desire to apologise to the House for my negligence in not including it originally. I can assure the House that I have it with me now and that I can explain how it operates, if that should be necessary.

Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)

The hon. and learned Gentleman has just told us that he has the Act with him. I think that he ought to explain the effect of it. If he is not prepared to do that, may I ask what the significance of the Amendment is? Where does the Lighting and Watching Act come in, and what powers do common informers have under that Act? Are we extending or reducing the powers of the common informer by adopting this Lords Amendment.

Mr. Heald rose

Mr. Speaker

The hon. and learned Gentleman can speak again only by leave of the House.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (Ayrshire, South)

How does this unknown and anonymous Statute affect Scotland?

Mr. Heald

Perhaps I may explain, Mr. Speaker, with the leave of the House, that the Lighting and Watching Act, 1833, is long and complicated. It provides penalties against misbehaviour by the overseers and for wilfully destroying or injuring watchhouses, lamps, etc. There are various other powers. There is or was, in accordance with standard provisions, a right to the common informer to obtain a part of the penalties which had to be paid by people found to be guilty of any of these offences. It is proposed by the Bill to abolish the liability of individuals to pay portions of such penalties to a common informer and to substitute for it the ordinary criminal proceedings.

Question put, and agreed to.