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Clause 4

Volume 889: debated on Monday 24 March 1975

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Procedure And Practice In Thedistrict Court

I beg to move Amendment No. 9, in page 3, line 28 at end insert

"and the power to increase the limit set by section 3(3) in so far as that is necessary to take account of the inflation of the currency.".
I take the view that long-windedness at this hour of the night is unforgivable. The amendment provides for the indexing of penalties, and I hope that the Government will accept it.

I trust that I can convince the House to reject the amendment. The maximum fine presently imposed by a burgh court for a common law offence is £50. It has been at this level since it was last reviewed in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1963. The fine is most commonly used in the burgh courts. It is important that we should not take such an important step as is suggested by the amendment within the context of this Bill.

Parliament has always jealously guarded the right to determine fines. The effect of the amendment would be to give to the High Court the right to determine the level of fines. I do not think that such a step would be acceptable to the House. The decision on this should be left with Parliament.

I hope that with those remarks I have convinced the House that the amendment ought not to be accepted. It may be that I have even convinced the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) that he should withdraw his amendment and not put it to a vote.

Amendment negatived.