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Clause 28—(Provisions As To Evidence, 34 And 35 Vict C 112)

Volume 65: debated on Monday 20 July 1914

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(1) The record or extract by which a conviction may be proved under Section eighteen of the Prevention of Crime Act, 1871, may in the case of a summary con viction consist of a copy of the minute or memorandum of the conviction entered in the register required to be kept under Section twenty-two of the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1879, and purporting to be signed by the clerk of the Court by whom the register is kept.

(2) The provisions of Section thirty of the Children Act, 1908 (which enables the evidence of a child of tender years to be received though not given on oath), shall apply to proceedings against persons for offences not mentioned in that Section, in like manner as they apply in respect of proceedings against persons for offences mentioned in that Section.

(3) The wife or husband of a person charged with bigamy may be called as a witness either for the prosecution or defence and without the consent of the person charged.

(4) In any proceedings before a Court of Summary Jurisdiction to enforce the payment of a sum of money adjudged by that or any other Court of Summary Jurisdiction to be paid by one person to another person, then—

  • (a) if the person to whom the sum is ordered to be paid was an officer of a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, the production of a certificate purporting to be signed by that officer that the sum has not been paid to him; and
  • (b) in any other case the production of a statutory declaration to a like effect purporting to be made by the person to whom the sum is ordered to be paid;
  • shall be evidence of the facts therein stated, unless the Court requires such officer or other person to be called as a witness.

    I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to insert the following new Sub-section:—

    "(5) In any proceedings before a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, or (upon an appeal) before the High Court or a Court of Quarter Sessions, for or in connection with, an order for the periodical payment of money, a copy of an entry in the wages book of any employer of labour, or, if no wages book be kept, a written statement signed by the employer, or by any responsible person in his employ, shall be primâ facie evidence that the wages therein entered or stated as having been paid to any person have in fact been so paid."
    This Amendment is designed to meet many cases which arise before magistrates. For instance, there are affiliation cases and cases where an order is made, or desired to be made, for payments by a working man under a separation order. There are many cases where it is necessary to know the earnings of a man. This Amendment is framed to meet such cases, so that a written statement may be obtained from the employer or from the person responsible for the wages book at the place where the man is employed. This principle is already acted upon where possible by the best justices and the best Courts, and the Amendment would regularise the practice all over the country.

    This Amendment would really introduce a new law of evidence. Such statements as those referred to certainly ought not to be conclusive. They could only apply to what the man had been receiving in the past. That is important, but the real point for the Courts to consider is, not what he has been receiving in the past, but what he can pay in the future, which is not quite the same thing. I hope the hon. Member will not press the Amendment.

    I do not like the idea of adding to the inquisition of working people, or that they should provide evidence for their own conviction. It seems to me rather an unfortunate Amendment.

    This is rather a dangerous Amendment. It is a complete departure from the laws of evidence to accept written books without any evidence as to how they are kept, or out of whose custody they come, or as to their accuracy. The only thing the law has hitherto done in this direction is to allow certified extracts from certain official documents to be accepted as evidence. It would be very mischievous to the community if such statements, loosely got together, which might prove to be wholly inaccurate, were allowed to be given as evidence in such cases.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.