HC Deb 13 March 1963 vol 673 cc1405-7
Mr. Denzil Freeth

I beg to move, in page 24, line 13 to leave out or for delivery after sale Perhaps it might be convenient if we discuss at the same time the next Amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend, in line 14 at end insert: (aa) except in the course of carriage of the goods for reward, has in his possession for delivery after sale, or.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

So be it.

Mr. Freeth

These Amendments deal with the same point, one which was raised in Committee when we discussed subsection (2) of the Clause. It was pointed out that as the subsection was drafted someone who was merely delivering goods might be liable to an offence if it were discovered that the goods he was delivering and of which, for the time being, he was in possession, were in fact wrongly marked goods, even though he was in no way responsible for making up the goods and in no way connected with the transaction except that he was transporting the goods from the seller to the buyer.

We have considered this point again and we agree that the subsection as drafted is too wide in this respect. We certainly agree that persons who carry goods for reward, such as common carriers, should not be liable for an offence under this subsection in respect of goods in their possession for delivery after sale, and the Amendments will ensure that such persons are not so liable.

This matter was raised in Committee by the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne) who also referred to the van driver or the messenger boy. I said that I would also look at their case. However, these persons would not be covered by the Amendments since they would not normally be carrying goods for reward. Quite frankly, I do not think that it would be right wholly to exempt such persons, because in some cases the deficiency might actually be caused by the van driver or messenger boy.

On the other hand, we have to take into account first of all that normally proceedings would be taken under Clause 22 (2) against a messenger boy or a van driver only if it was pretty obvious that he was the person who had actually caused the deficiency. If the hon. Gentleman cares to refer to subsections (1) and (4) of Clause 27, he will see that they contain ample opportunity for such a van driver or messenger boy, when wrongly accused, to plead that he was not the person responsible for the offence, and that the person responsible was the person who sold the goods or made them up. I think, therefore, that we have met the points raised in Committee.

Mr. Darling

This was a proposition which was first raised to protect the innocent errand boy. I remember that, when I was involved in many Committee sittings on the Slaughterhouse Act, in order to make matters clear to everybody we had to refer to the diligent slaughter-man. We have now referred to the innocent van driver, the innocent employee and the innocent errand boy, and I believe that all of them in their innocence can thank us for doing so much on their behalf to see that their innocence is fully protected.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 24, line 14, at end insert: (aa) except in the course of carriage of the goods for reward, has in his possession for delivery after sale, or.—[Mr. Denzil Freeth.]

Mr. Denzil Freeth

I beg to move, in page 24, line 19, after second "in", to insert "or on". At the end of the meeting of the Standing Committee on 11th December, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling) suddenly shot at me the question whether the words "or on" ought not to be in the Bill. I said at that time that I would not like to give an answer hastily. At leisure, I looked at the matter. The hon. Member is quite right and I thank him for helping us to put these words in the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.