§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [Lord BALFOUR of BURLEIGH in the Chair.]
§ Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
§ Clause 5:
§ False statutory declarations other false statements without oath.
§ 5. If any person knowingly and wilfully makes (otherwise than on oath) a statement false in a material particular, and the statement is made—
- (a) in a statutory declaration; or
- (b) in an abstract, account, balance sheet, book, certificate, declaration, entry, estimate, inventory, notice, report, return, or other document which he is authorised or required to make, attest, or verify, by [under or for the purposes of any public general Act of Parliament for the time being in force; or
- (c) in any oral declaration or oral answer which he is required to make by under or in pursuance of any public general Act of Parliament for the time being in force,
§ LORD ALVERSTONE
My Lords, I have ventured to put down an Amendment to Clause 5, the reasons for which I can state in a few sentences. This Bill, as to the merits of which I ventured to say a word—I hope not too strongly—the other day, only purports to consolidate the law, and does not alter the class of document in respect of which perjury can be assigned. In Clause 5 there occur the words, "or other document which he is authorised or required to make, attest, or verify by, under, or for the purposes of any public general Act of Parliament." That, I think, would include a considerable number of documents in respect of which, according to the present law, perjury cannot be assigned; and as we are really as far as we can only consolidating the law the words "under or for the purposes of" are too wide, are not wanted to preserve the existing law, and might open the door to the inclusion of documents 479 which are not now subject to criminal prosecution. I would therefore venture to suggest to the Lord Chancellor that the words which I propose to omit had better come out.
Clause 5, page 4, lines 18 and 19, leave out ("under or for the purposes of.")—(Lord Alverstone.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD LOREBURN)
My Lords, I am prepared to accept this Amendment, but I should like in a few words to give my reason, because this Bill is the result of a great deal of labour by Members of both Houses and I think one ought to explain why it is that one alters it at all. The Bill is merely to codify and consolidate the law, not to alter it, except in the particulars that I explained on Second Reading, which were absolutely inevitable. This is a clause to consolidate and codify the law under which punishment may be imposed on any person who knowingly or wilfully makes a statement false in a material particular, though it may not be on oath. The clause provides that the person shall be punished if the false statement is made in a statutory declaration, or in an abstract, account, and so forth, "which he is authorised or required to make, attest, or verify, by, under, or for the purposes of any public general Act of Parliament." My noble friend the Lord Chief Justice thinks it ought to read" attest or verify by any public general Act of Parliament. "I think that is really on the whole safer, because if we were to include a document required to be made under or for the purposes of" a public general Act of Parliament, it might. comprise within the net some offences which are not now punishable. There is a further reason. If these words are omitted, any false statement which is now punishable would not cease to be punishable, but being of extremely rare occurrence would have to be dealt with under the particular Acts as they arose. In this difficult work I think it is better to be on the safe side, and I accept my noble and learned friend's Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ Report of Amendment to be received To-morrow, and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 33.)?