HL Deb 21 July 1977 vol 386 cc439-40

46 After Clause 32, insert the following new Clause—

Penalty for offences under s. 3 of Explosive Substances Act 1883

"For an offence under section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 (attempt to cause explosion, or making or keeping explosive, with intent to endanger life or property in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland) the maximum term of imprisonment which may be imposed by a court in Great Britain shall be increased from twenty years to life".


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 46. With the leave of the House, I shall speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 76, 80 and 136. These Amendments change the penalty in Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 for conspiracy to cause an explosion from 20 years' imprisonment to life imprisonment. This is in line with the penalty structure for conspiracy in the Bill. The Amendments to Clause 48 extend the provision to Scotland.

Part I of the Criminal Law Bill prescribes comprehensive rules to determine the maximum penalty for a conspiracy by reference to the penalty for the object of the conspiracy. In its present form, the Bill has no effect on Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883, which makes it an offence to conspire to cause an explosion with a penalty of 20 years' imprisonment. The Law Commission made no recommendation for change here, apparently because they did not feel it to be their business. But this leaves Section 3 of the 1883 Act as the only example of conspiracy known to us, where the penalty for conspiracy to commit an offence will still be less than the penalty for the offence itself once the Bill becomes law. This is in no way an academic question since, as the House may recall, in the QE2 explosives trial at Winchester Mr. Justice Ackner sentenced two men to 20 years' imprisonment under Section 3, but suggested that life imprisonment should have been available to him. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment. —(Lord Harris of Greenwich.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.