HC Deb 29 November 1938 vol 342 cc262-3W
Mr. Stephen

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many prosecutions were undertaken last year for offences under the Unemployment and National Health Insurance Acts; the number of such cases where there was a common law charge, and the number where the charge was under the penalty section of the Acts; whether he is aware that heavier penalties have been, and are being, imposed under the common law procedure than was sanctioned by Parliament in the penalty clause; and whether he will take the necessary steps to see that in such prosecutions the penalties provided in the Acts are not exceeded by means of common law procedure?

The Lord Advocate

Owing to the form in which the statistics are compiled, only approximate estimates are available. The total number of prosecutions in 1937 involving fraud was about 300, of which seven were charges on indictment at common law. In five of the latter cases, in all of which pleas of guilty were tendered, penalties in excess of the statutory maximum were imposed. Procedure by indictment at common law is only resorted to exceptionally in very serious cases where some specialty exists, e.g., where a long series of offences extends beyond the statutory time limits, or where the charge has to be combined with other common law charges.