§ '(1) No prosecution for an offence under this Act shall be commenced after the expiration of three years from the commission of the offence or one year from its discovery by the prosecutor, whichever is the earlier.
§ (2) Notwithstanding anything in section 104 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952, a magistrates' court may try an information for an offence under this Act if the information waslaid within twelve months from the commission of the offence.
§ (3) Notwithstanding anything in section 23 of the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Act 1954, summary proceedings in Scotland for an offence under this Act may be commenced within twelve months from the commission of the offence, and subsection (2) of the said section 23 shall apply for the purposes of this subsection as it applies for the purposes of that section.
§ (4)In the application of this section to Northern Ireland, for the references in subsection (2) to section 104 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952 and to the trial and laying of an information there shall be substituted respectively references to section 34 of the Magistrates' Courts Act (Northern Ireland) 1964 and to the hearing and determination and making of a complaint'.—[Sir G. Howe.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ The Minister for Trade and Consumer Affairs (Sir Geoffrey Howe)
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
This new Clause arises out of an undertaking given in Committee in relation to an amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton). He moved a new Clause in terms of subsection (1) of this new Clause which provides a limitation period of three years between the commission of an offence and the time when proceedings can be commenced in respect of it.
When he did that we undertook to consider the point. It is the case, as he pointed out, that the mischiefs dealt with in Part II of the Bill are similar to those dealt with in the Trade Descriptions Act 1517 1968 and it follows that it is reasonable for there to be similar limitation provisions in respect of these as in respect of offences under that Act. My hon. Friend's new Clause did not entirely succeed in aligning the provisions of the Bill with those of the 1968 Act. His new Clause did not take account of the provisions of Section 19(2) and (3) of the Trade Descriptions Act which allow prosecutions to be brought in a magistrates' court up to 12 months after the commission of the offence.
It seems reasonable for the alignment to be complete. This new Clause takes on board all the corresponding provisions of Section 19 of the 1968 Act. It meets my hon. Friend's point, it meets almost every reasonable point that can be argued in connection with this topic, and I commend it to the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.