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Offences

Volume 929: debated on Monday 28 March 1977

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I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 17, line 22, after 'Act', insert:

'or, in relation to information supplied under or for the purposes of this Act, section 53(1)(a) of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965,'.
The purpose of the amendment is to facilitate prosecution where a person has given false information to a registrar and the offence does not come to light within six months from the date of the offence. The amendment is not introducing a new offence, because knowingly giving false information to a registrar is already an offence under the 1965 Registration Act. Under that Act, however, summary proceedings must be taken within the normal period for that procedure—namely, within six months of the offence.

Experience has shown that this type of offence in matters of marriage often does not come to light until quite some time after the offence is committed. The greater flexibility of time limits provided by Clause 24(3) for dealing with an offence under the Bill—within 12 months from the commission of the offence or within 3 months from its coming to light—should be available not only for offences under the Bill but also for the existing offence, under the 1965 Registration Act, of knowingly giving false information to a registrar when the information is given for purposes of marriage. The amendment achieves this by enabling the false information offence in the 1965 Act, where the information is given under or for the purposes of the Bill, to be dealt with under the procedure in subsection (3).

We are not here concerned merely with minor infringements of the law. The kind of case which arises from time to time and which must be pursued is that where a person has knowingly and deliberately given false information to a registrar by concealing a legal impediment to marriage and has thus induced the registrar to provide the necessary facilities to marry. This can have serious consequences for the unwitting other party to the marriage.

Amendment agreed to.