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Offences And Penalties

Volume 892: debated on Friday 16 May 1975

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I beg to move Amendment No. 8, in page 2, line 14, at end insert:

'on first offence and on subsequence offences to a fine not exceeding £400 and six months imprisonment'.
My hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) has been unavoidably called away. He has asked me formally to move the amendment, the purpose of which is to ensure that second and subsequent offences are dealt with in a different way from a first offence.

In Committee it was agreed that there should be a maximum fine of £400 and that it was inappropriate that this offence should carry a prison sentence. The possibility of the loss of a licence would be a serious deterrent. I agree that the maximum fine is £400, but the maximum fine will not necessarily be imposed. I imagine that for a first offence it is unlikely that the maximum fine would be imposed. I expect, in accordance with the usual custom of the courts, that if someone committed the offence a second time the fine would be much steeper, and that if he continued to commit the offence the court would impose the maximum fine, which is a fairly heavy one. There is no need for a further deterrent in the form of a term of imprisonment.

I fully agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig). There is no need to include an additional penalty of imprisonment. The clause states clearly that the offender is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £400. That is the maximum fine. In addition, the question of revocation of licence may arise. That punishment is quite sufficient, and I hope that the amendment will not be accepted.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) and with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Mr. Weitzman). The Government do not accept that imprisonment is a suitable punishment for offences of this kind, whether on a first or subsequent offence.

Amendment negatived.