§ Mr. Graham Page
I beg to move, in page 57, line 9, leave out subsection (1) and insert:(1) If any person, not being a trustee savings bank, takes or uses, in connection with any business carried on by him, the title of "savings bank certified under the Act of 1863," 1679 "savings bank certified under the Trustee Savings Banks Act 1954" or "savings bank certified under the Trustee Savings Banks Act 1969", he shall be guilty of an offence.
§ The Chairman
With this Amendment the Committee might wish to take the following manuscript Amendment, in page 57, line 20, at end insert:(3) 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 is attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
§ Mr. Page
In this case I shall be able to carry the Solicitor-General with me, because I shall be using a somewhat similar argument to that which he used on the last Amendment.
This Amendment was considered by the Law Commission and also by the Joint Select Committee. It relates to the penalties for pretending to be a trustee savings bank. In recommendation No. 20 of the report attention was called to Section 80 of the 1954 Act, which is similar to subsection (1) of Clause 92 as it appears in the Bill at present. The Law Commission pointed out that the present law penalises the shareholders of a company which pretends wrongly to be a trustee savings bank but it does not penalise the company itself or the officers of the company. It is entirely against the trend of modern legislation on this subject.
Under all fairly recent Acts over the past 20 or 30 years we have, generally speaking, inserted in statutes where it has been necessary to make some act by a company an offence, a provision that the company may be prosecuted and, not only the company, but the officers of the company who are responsible for the company carrying out the act which is an offence. We have before us in the 1680 existing law relating to trustee savings banks a complete reversal of the modern legislative practice.
The Law Commission recommended that we insert in place of that the modern Clause. What I call the modern Clause are the two Amendments which I have read out plus subsection (2) of Clause 92 as it stands at present.
When this was put to the Joint Select Committee the evidence given to that Committee on page 20 of the report was to this effect, that the section is worded quite differently from modern Acts. The witness was referring to the existing law. He went on to say:It has the effect that, for example, if a company which is not a trustee savings bank uses the title 'savings bank certified under the Trustee Savings Banks Act 1954' the company cannot be prosecuted, only the members of the company can be prosecuted, that is the shareholders. The directors as such cannot be prosecuted or any of the officers of the company unless they are shareholdersThe Joint Select Committee seemed to consider this proposal favourably but to think that it was rather a large step for it as a Joint Select Committee on Consolidation Bills to take. The Chairman of the Committee said:The question is whether we ought to make an amendment in what is primarily a consolidating procedure. It is a matter, as this is a recommendation, which can be debated in either House. I think we ought to draw attention to it.Lord Guest said:I am in favour of taking it out and leaving the House to put it in if it wants to.The Chairman said:They can always put it back, I suppose.The Joint Select Committee, having thought that this was a good idea, as I read the report, felt that it was not for it so take such a substantial step in amending the law but that it would draw the attention of the House to it.
My Amendment would insert in the Bill exactly the recommendation which the Law Commission made, which was, in fact, printed in the first edition of the Bill as laid before another place.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am glad to say that the Government will accept these Amendments, and we are grateful to the hon. Member for moving them. As he said, this is the implementation of a recommendation of the Law Commission, 1681 which makes it very agreeable to me to accept the Amendments. The hon. Gentleman has put forward the arguments compendiously and persuasively. This is recommendation No. 20 of the Commission.
I was asked yesterday by the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) whether the table of derivations in the Bill would appear in the Act. I said that it would, but that answer has to be qualified. The loose copy of the Act will not contain the table, but it will appear in the bound volume of the Statutes.
§ Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth
May I thank the Solicitor-General? Half a loaf is better than no bread. I am not certain about the reason for this, but perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to tell me on some future occasion.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: In page 57, line 20, at end insert—
(3) 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 is attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 93 to 100 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Schedules 1 to 3 agreed to.
§ Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, considered.
§ Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 55 (Third Reading), and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with Amendments.