HC Deb 29 June 1951 vol 489 cc1805-6
Mr. Lindgren

I beg to move, in page 24, line 23, to leave out subsection (4), and to insert: (4) Where an offence under this section which has been committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, he as well as the body corporate shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. This Amendment fulfils an undertaking which my right hon. Friend gave in Committee after a very lengthy discussion. It is a question of the transfer of the onus of proof, and of the relationship of this Amendment to an Amendment made in another place to the Sea Fish Industry Bill. This Amendment keeps this Bill in line with the general intentions of Parliament, as well as fulfilling the promise which my right hon. Friend made.

Mr. Molson

I feel that the Opposition should express gratitude to the Government for this Amendment. This is one of those cases where recently there has been a tendency for administrative convenience rather than the rights of the subject to be considered in legislation, and it is a matter on which some of us thought an important issue was at stake. In this legislation, the onus of proof would have been upon an accused person to prove that he was innocent, instead of the obligation being placed upon the prosecutor to prove that he was guilty. It is for that reason that we attach very great importance to the Amendment, which seems to represent a certain change of heart on the part of this Government, in that they are prepared to reconsider a matter of this kind. I want to express the gratitude of the Opposition for their having done so.

Amendment agreed to.