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Commons Amendment

Volume 413: debated on Tuesday 21 October 1980

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82 After Clause 49, insert the following new clause:

" Execution in different parts of United Kingdom of warrants for imprisonment for non-payment of fine.

"After section 38 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 there shall be inserted the following section—

"Execution in different parts of United Kingdom of warrants for imprisonment for nonpayment of fine.

38A.—(1) Subject to subsection (6) below, a person against whom an extract conviction is issued in Scotland for imprisonment in default of payment of a fine may be arrested—

  • (a) in England and Wales, by any constable acting within his police area;
  • (b) in Northern Ireland, by any member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve;
  • and subsections (4) and (5) of section 159 of the Magistrates' Courts Act (Northern Ireland) 1964 (execution without possession of the warrant and execution on Sunday) shall apply to the execution in Northern Ireland of any such extract conviction as those subsections apply in relation to the execution of a warrant for arrest.

    (2) Subject to subsection (6) below, a person against whom there has been issued in England, Wales or Northern Ireland a warrant committing him to prison in default of payment of a sum adjudged to be paid by a conviction may be arrested in Scotland, by any constable appointed for a police area, in like manner as if the warrant were an extract conviction for imprisonment issued in Scotland in default of payment of a fine.

    (3) A person arrested by virtue of subsection (1) above under an extract conviction or by virtue of subsection (2) above under a warrant of commitment may be detained under it in any prison in the part of the United Kingdom in which he was arrested; and while so detained he shall be treated for all purposes as if he were detained under a warrant of commitment or extract conviction issued in that part of the United Kingdom.

    (4) An extract conviction or a warrant of commitment may be executed by virtue of this section whether or not it has been endorsed under section 4 of the Summary Jurisdiction (Process) Act 1981 or under section 27 of the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act Act 1851.

    (5) In this section—

    • 'fine' includes any sum treated by any enactment as a fine for the purposes of its enforcement and any sum to be found as caution;
    • 'imprisonment' includes, in the case of a person who is under the age of 21 years, detention;
    • 'part of the United Kingdom' means England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland;

    'prison' means—

  • (i) in the case of a person who is under the age of 21 years arrested in Scotland, a young offenders institution; and
  • (ii) in the case of a person under that age arrested in Northern Ireland, a young offenders centre; and
  • 'sum adjudged to be paid by a conviction' has the meaning given by section 150(3) of the Magistrate's Courts Act 1980 or, in Northern Ireland, section 169(2) of the Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Act 1964.

    (6) This section shall not apply to the arrest of persons under the age of 17 years.".".

    My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 82. I will, with permission, speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 102 to 105 inclusive. This new clause and the associated amendments make reciprocal provision between Scotland and England and Wales, and between Scotland and Northern Ireland to secure first that warrants of apprehension and imprisonment in respect of fine defaulters may be executed in the other jurisdiction without the necessity of "backing", and secondly that imprisonment following thereon should be served locally in a prison of the jurisdiction in which the defaulter is apprehended.

    The Thomson Committee in their second report expressed concern about the present procedure, under which a defaulter on a Scottish fine who is arrested in England has to be brought by the Scottish police to Scotland to serve his sentence. They noted that this is a source of much complaint, particularly by the police, because it creates needless difficulties and expense for them; and that it can also be abused by defaulters. For example, a Scotsman living in London who is anxious to return home to Scotland may give himself up to the police for non-payment of a small fine in the knowledge that he will be conveyed to a Scottish prison. On arrival he immediately pays his fine at the prison door and thus gets a free journey home. They therefore recommended that it should be competent for a sentence of imprisonment imposed in default of a payment of a fine by a Scottish court to be served in an English prison and vice versa: and that the extract conviction issued by the clerk of the court for nonpayment of the fine should be sufficient authority for the apprehension and imprisonment of the accused. At present in such circumstances the cumbersome procedure of obtaining "backing" from an English court has to be adopted. I beg to move.

    Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said amendment.—( The Earl of Mansfield.)

    My Lords, the House will have noticed that this swingeing cut in public expenditure is directed exclusively at Scots. The noble Earl may take some comfort in the fact that there is no member of the Scottish National Party in this House to criticise him for it.

    My Lords, does this also mean that any application by a prisoner to be transferred to a Scottish prison will automatically be turned down?

    We used to have a Scottish Nationalist, my Lords, but it could have been that the conduct of the ill-fated Scotland Act by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, frightened him off.

    On Question, Motion agreed to.