§ [No. 19]
§ Clause 19, page 19, line 12, leave out from "Act" to "to" in line 18 and insert "shall be liable—
- (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £400 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both;
- (b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.
§ (7) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—
- (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £400;
- (b) on conviction on indictment."
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 19. My noble friend Lord Selkirk criticised this subsection on the grounds both of substance and clarity, if I remember rightly. The purpose of this Amendment is to provide that a person guilty of an offence under Clause 16, which may include unlawful possession of firearms or explosives, shall be liable on summary conviction, as an alternative to a fine not exceeding £400, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both. It thus introduces imprisonment as a penalty on summary conviction for an offence under Clause 16.
1549 The Amendment is based on two premises: first, that offences under Clause 16, which may include unlawful possession of firearms or explosives are more serious than offences under Clause 19, which are regulatory. We believe it is right to ensure that the maximum penalties which the court may impose in respect of these offences reflect the comparative seriousness of those offences. Secondly, it is necessary to ensure that similar offences in different fields of legislation are not made punishable by widely differing maximum penalties. The Government accepted in principle that a penalty of imprisonment should be made available on summary conviction in respect of an offence under Clause 16. However, we did not consider that this should extend to offences under Clause 19, first because we did not believe the seriousness of offences under that clause merited such penalties and, secondly, because it is the policy of the Government to try to get away, wherever possible, from the provisions concerning short sentences of imprisonment on summary conviction. I hope your Lordships will agree that the Amendment considerably improves the Bill, and I am grateful to noble Lords for their help in achieving this. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for the improved drafting. I was worried mostly about clarity, and from that a doubt on the substance arose in my mind. I think the wording is now very much better and I certainly have no objection to the slight changes which have been effected. I am grateful to my noble friend.