HC Deb 14 April 1959 vol 603 cc957-8
Mr Iain Macleod

I beg to move, in rage 13, line 25, to leave out " ten " and to insert " fifteen."

We now come to a group of seven Amendments. Earlier, there were two conflicting arguments, one which I put forward —not very convincingly —that we s should follow the precedent of the Mines and Quarries Act, and the other that we should take into account, among other things, the change in the value of money, which would mean on the whole not doubling but trebling the value of the penalties. It seems to me, on reflection, that the second is the stronger of the two arguments, and these Amendments are designed to carry it out. We shall then have inserted in the Clause the principle—I am not talking about the Schedules, which raise rather different matters —that the penalties should be trebled.

Mr MacDermot

The Opposition welcomes the Amendments, since they go some way to meet the argument that we put forward in Committee that the penalties set under the 1937 Act are far too small. We think they were too small in the first place, but with the fall in the value of money which has taken place since 1937 they have become derisory. The original Bill provided, broadly speaking, for doubling them, but that had not even caught up with the fall in the value of money and would have meant that the effect of the penalties would still have been less than it was in 1937.

It seems that the Government have been impressed by our argument, and even if they do not feel able to accept the policy of tying old-age pensions to the cost of living, perhaps they will be willing to tie the penalties under the Factories Act, though they have not gone quite as far as that.

My hon. Friends and I would have liked to see the penalties increased considerably. We do not want to start a witch hunt, and in most cases we do not suggest that where people are brought before the courts larger penalties are necessary, but some of the offences that are committed where workmen are unnecessarily subject to hazards, perhaps to their lives, in their work places are matters of very great importance indeed.

I think they can fairly be compared, as they were in Committee, to the hazards to life and limb on the roads. We should like to see power given the courts to impose really severe penalties in proper circumstances. So far as these Amendments go some way towards meeting our point of view, we welcome them and accept them.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 13, line 27, leave out " forty " and insert sixty."

In line 33, leave out " ten " and insert " fifteen."

In line 38, leave out " ten " and insert " fifteen."

In line 39, leave out " forty " and insert " sixty."

In line 40, leave out " fifty " and insert " seventy-five."

In line 40, leave out " two " and insert " three."—[Mr. Iain Macleod.]