§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND
My Lords, this is a Bill to consolidate and simplify the law of Scotland relating to false oaths, declarations and statements. The Perjury Act, 1911, which does not apply to Scotland, consolidated the law in England relating to perjury and kindred offences, and repealed as regards England a very large number of provisions contained in Statutes passed in a period of years extending from the reign of Henry VIII to the year 1909. Many of these provisions apply to Scotland, and the Statute Law Committee has pointed out that it would be of advantage if a Bill were passed for Scotland consolidating and repealing these provisions. It is obviously desirable that this should be done before a new edition of the revised Statutes is completed, instead of retaining these provisions on the Statute Book for Scotland only, especially as the Common Law in Scotland renders many of them unnecessary.
415 The Bill follows the principal provisions of the 1911 Act and repeals, in addition to some purely Scottish provisions, all the provisions repealed as regards England by the 1911 Act which apply to Scotland. Clause 1 penalises false statement made on oath and corresponds to Section 1 and 2 of the 1911 Act. There is, however, not the same necessity as in England to draw a distinction between false oaths in judicial proceedings and false oaths for other purposes, for the Common Law as to perjury is expressly saved by Clause 6 and would cover false oaths in judicial proceedings. Clause 2, which corresponds to Section 5 of the 1911 Act, penalises false statements in statutory declarations or other declarations, written or oral, made in pursuance of any Act of Parliament. Clause 3 corresponds to Section 6 of the 1911 Act, and penalises false statements made for the purpose of securing registration in any statutory roll or register. Clause 4 deals with persons aiding, abetting, or procuring contraventions by other persons and is analagous to Section 7 of the 1911 Act. Clause 5 corresponds to Section 8 of the 1911 Act, and makes offences committed outside Great Britain and Ireland triable in Scotland in certain circumstances. Clause 6 saves the Common Law as to perjury, fraud, etc., and makes provision for cases where a false statement is also in contravention of other Acts. Clause 7 corresponds to Section 15 of the 1911 Act, and deals with the form of oath, and with affirmation in lieu of oath, both for the purposes of the Bill and for the purpose of proceedings at Common Law for perjury. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Duke of Sutherland.)
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, the substance of this Bill seems to me to be good, and I do not rise to make any comment on that substance, but there is one clause, Clause 5, the effect of which is that if somebody, say, from the Far East, where they are not quite so particular about false oaths as they are in this country, lands in Scotland, or gets to Scotland, of which he is not a native, and a country with which he has nothing to do, he may be apprehended and tried and convicted under this Act, of which he has known nothing, and with which he has had nothing to do. I 416 gather from what the noble Duke said, that the provision is taken by analogy from the Act of 1911, but the Act of 1911 has been a good deal altered, and I think it is a strong thing to bring a stranger and convict him under a Statute of which he knows nothing, and with which he has nothing to do, merely because he happens to be apprehended in Scotland on a casual visit there, or may, indeed, have been cast ashore from a wreck. At any rate, he has nothing to do with Scotland. I should like to know from the noble Duke whether this has been carefully considered. It is not enough to say that it is an old provision. The section of the 1911 Act is a section of a different Act, but it may be that for the working of justice some clause of this sort is necessary. It is a very strong and rather startling provision, and I would like to know from the noble Duke the reasons for which it has been inserted here.
THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND
My Lords, I can assure the learned and noble Viscount that this point has been considered and will be again carefully considered before the Committee stage. I am very glad indeed that he has raised the point, and perhaps on the Committee stage he might like to go further into it. The clause corresponds absolutely to Section 8 of the 1911 Act.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
A different Act. But on the Committee stage the noble Duke will tell us, as I understand, that it has been fully considered.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and submitted to a Committee of the Whole House.