HC Deb 24 July 1964 vol 699 cc947-9

Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 9, after "pounds';" insert: and for the words 'further amount' there shall be substituted the word 'amount'".

3.28 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Mervyn Pike)

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

Mr. Deputy-Speaker, would it be convenient if this and the next Amendment were taken together?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)

Yes. The Amendments, of course, will have to be put separately.

Miss Pike

Perhaps I could explain shortly why this Amendment is necessary. The purpose of this and the next Amendment is to remove a doubt that exists about the interpretation of Section 14(1) of the Criminal Justice Administration Act, 1914, on which this Bill operates. The subsection, as amended by the Bill as originally presented, would have provided that an offender who had committed malicious damage to an amount not exceeding £100 would be liable on summary conviction— (a) if the amount of the damage, in the opinion of the court, exceeds five pounds, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds: and (b) and if the amount of the damage is, in the opinion of the court, five pounds or less, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two months or to a fine not exceeding five pounds; and in either case to the payment of such further amount as appears to the court reasonable compensation for the damage so committed which last-mentioned amount shall be paid to the party aggrieved. After the Bill had made substantial progress, it was brought to the Government's notice that the inclusion of the word "further" had led some courts to feel uncertain about their precise powers under the subsection. One view was that the word "further" simply made it clear that, if a fine had been imposed, the court might order the payment of an amount of compensation in addition, and that it did not in any way prevent the court from ordering payment of compensation in addition to imprisonment. This interpretation was supported by as good an authority as Stones Justices' Manual, which in a footnote on page 2037 of the 1964 edition plainly contemplated that there might be both compensation and imprisonment.

On another view, however, the reference to a "further" amount was taken to mean that compensation could be ordered only if it was in addition to an "amount" in the form of a fine and that it could not accompany a sentence of imprisonment. The Government's advice was that the point was not free from doubt; and although recovery of compensation may be more difficult where an offender is imprisoned, it seemed right that the court should be able in an appropriate case to award compensation in addition to imprisonment. The purpose of the Amendment made in another place to Clause 1 of the Bill, and to which the House in now invited to agree, was to remove any doubt about its power to do so. The Amendments to the Schedule and Title are consequential on the Amendment to Clause 1.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

This seems an appropriate season to accept the Amendment. Just before a General Election is a period when all hon. Members are interested in removing doubts about one another's views.

Question put and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to.