Skip to main content

Forgery And Counterfeiting Bill Hl

Volume 416: debated on Monday 26 January 1981

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

5.52 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. It was in 1973 that the Law Commission produced their Paper No. 55 on this topic, as usual a well-researched document based upon wide consultation and containing at the back a draft Bill with notes upon it. They did their usual excellent job; and I am happy to say that the current chairman of the Law Commission has written to me saying that he is glad that at last this work is coming off the shelf and on to the floor of Parliament. I am also immensely grateful to Her Majesty's Government for the assistance that they have given me, and I hope will continue to give me, in the preparation of this Bill to present to the House this evening.

The Bill does not look exactly the same as that at the back of the Law Commission's Report, but it is more a difference of form than of substance. There are a few changes which have come about as a result of subsequent legislation and a certain amount of further discussion, but in essence it is all there very much as the Law Commission suggested. The existing law on forgery is found mainly in the Forgery Act 1913, which in itself was a consolidation Act, and on counterfeiting in the Coinage Offences Act 1936. The trouble about these Acts is that, certainly as far as concerns forgery, it is not all in that Act because there is still an element of common law, and what is in that Act is fairly complicated.

There are over 30 separate offences; there are 13 different categories of document which it is an offence to forge with intent to defraud, and there are different maximum penalties for most of them; then there are 18 categories of documents which it is an offence to forge with intent to defraud or deceive, again with different maxima; and then, furthermore, the Act creates offences of forging other, unspecified documents with intent to defraud or deceive if the document is what is called public but only with intent to defraud if it is a private document. So it is not really very straightforward, and it certainly needs simplification.

That, of course, is one of the main objects of the Law Commission, but their other object in all their work is to modernise, and there have been many developments since 1913. For instance, some of the documents in that Act really no longer require any protection at all, even if they continue to exist, while at the same time other documents, quite unknown before the First World War, have come into existence and indeed have so grown in their significance that they may require special attention. Indeed, if your Lordships will look at the repeal schedule, at the back of the Bill, you will see a whole lot of modern legislation which has created specific forgery offences in addition to what the 1913 Act contains.

Then, of course, the Law Commission also turned their mind to counterfeiting, having first established that the two subjects should be dealt with in conjunction. The 1936 Act goes back to a time when gold and silver coins were in public use and had an intrinsic value apart from their face value. So that Act distinguishes between gold and silver coins and other sorts of coins; and it had all sorts of different penalties accordingly. Of course, nowadays one would hardly think it worthwhile to file or clip the coinage that we use in our everyday affairs, but in 1936 this was a serious matter and had to be dealt with. So again the need for modernisation and simplification is there.

There is also the curiosity that, as concerns coins and banknotes, they were differentiated. Coins were a matter of counterfeiting, but making false banknotes was forgery. Really, it does not now seem that we need different codes of law to deal with both of them, and the Law Commission has I think adequately explained, and been supported by its consultees, the reason why these should all be dealt with in a similar Bill. So the Bill follows the Law Commission's pattern, dealing first with offences relating to forgery and then with the counterfeiting offences.

Part I, regarding forgery, applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not to Scotland, where forgery is a common law offence. Part II applies to the whole of the United Kingdom. If one looks at paragraph 78 of the Law Commission's Report one sees that this is in fact, I believe, what they had anticipated, and indeed would have liked to have seen, although they themselves were confined to only England and Wales. I will not go into some of the philosophical discussions or the jurisprudential discussions about the need to have an offence of forgery at all, or any particular one, but it does seem right that forgers—who, after all, are a special form of criminal that we all tend to recognise as such—should have legislation specifically directed towards them.

I am certainly entirely in agreement with the Law Commission in contending that there is a good case for retaining a separate offence of forgery, which is defined in Clause 1 of the Bill as the making of a false instrument with the intention of inducing someone to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his or any other person's prejudice. That really is, in essence, the way that the Law Commission put it, too. That is an offence punishable with a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment.

There are a number of technical terms, terms of art, in this Bill, as there always are I think nowadays in modern criminal legislation. I hope that if noble Lords will give it a Second Reading we can look more thoroughly at the Committee stage at any of the technicalities that may be causing difficulties. For instance, the word "instrument" is defined in Clause 8, and it is a document, but it is nowadays defined so as to include also such things as tapes and records. It is a false instrument if it tells a lie about itself—that is the classic definition—but not if it merely contains lies. For instance, a letter from an applicant for a job which falsely states his qualification is not a forgery, but one which falsely purports to have been written by a previous employer is because that tells a lie about himself.

The Bill uses the word, "prejudice", which has the intention of combining the previous words, "intention to defraud or deceive". It covers prejudice not only in terms of financial loss or gain but also prejudice in terms of performing a duty in a way that it would not have been performed but for the false instrument. It picks up, for instance, the case of Welham which was decided about 10 years ago in this House. Thus a person who forges a pass to gain access to the Gallery of your Lordships' House with the intention that the policeman on the gate should accept it as genuine and as a result allow the person to enter would be guilty of forgery. But a person who, as a practical joke, forges a letter to a friend demanding payment of a debt which he knows has already been paid would not be guilty of forgery because he would not be intending to induce his friend to do anything by way of an act to his prejudice. I hope that the single word "prejudice" will cover the whole field and abolish the tiresome distinction between the two that the old legislation contains.

Clauses 2, 3 and 4 reproduce in effect Clauses 2 and 3 of the Law Commission's Bill. Clause 2 provides that it is an offence to make a copy of a false instrument with the same intention as is required in Clause 1, while Clauses 3 and 4 deal with offences of using a false instrument or a copy of one—that is, using rather than making it—both of which were in Clause 3 of the Law Commission's Bill. The need to cover copies as opposed to the original instrument is discussed in the Law Commission's report at paragraph 39. They rightly point out, as your Lordships will all know far too well, that the increase in the use of photo-copying facilities means that copies of documents are increasingly accepted as though they were duplicates of the original or indeed possibly sometimes the original itself. Considerable reliance is placed on them. It seems sensible therefore that this position should be made clear.

So far as concerns the offence of using a copy, the law Commission again considered whether a separate offence was necessary and concluded that it was. As they point out in paragraph 46 of their report, a person who uses a false document in order to gain some financial advantage would probably be guilty of an offence under the Theft Act, but that Act would not be adequate to deal with a case in which some non-pecuniary advantage, such as the issue of a driving licence, is sought or obtained. So Clause 3 makes it an offence to use a false instrument with the same intention as in Clause 1—that is with the intention of inducing someone to accept it as genuine and so act to the prejudice—and Clause 4 says the same for a copy of a false document.

The first major departure from the Law Commission's Bill comes in Clause 5 of this Bill. This is the clause that creates the offence of possessing certain forged instruments and the implements and materials for making them. There is at present no general offence of possessing a false instrument and nobody is suggesting that there should be. Generally speaking, adequate control is provided by the offences of making, copying and using false instruments. But there does seem to be a restricted range of forged documents and other things which by their mere existence present a sufficiently grave danger to justify making it an offence to possess them and the materials used for making them.

In considering which items should be covered by this offence of possession, the Law Commission identified two criteria. These were the ease with which the instruments may pass from hand to hand, and the ease with which they may be accepted as genuine because of the circumstances in which they are commonly used. So the Law Commission proposed that it should be an offence to possess, either with the full intent as in Clause 1 or without lawful authority or excuse with consequently different penalties, certain items which were listed in their report, items very similar to some of the ones listed in the 1913 Act.

Things have moved on and, for instance, credit cards are now even more common and more widely used that they were eight years ago in 1973. It has been possible to identify other instruments which it would seem ought to be protected using the Law Commission's criterion. An additional one covers items upon which special reliance is placed and whose nature is such that possession of a forgery is unlikely to be innocent and demands some type of explanation. That is why Clause 5 includes things like passports, cheques, travellers' cheques, cheque cards, credit cards and certificates relating to the registration of births, deaths and marriages. The need to cover some of these is very obvious. Travellers' cheques and cheque cards are instruments which are in frequent use in circumstances where they may easily be accepted as genuine. They have a potential for use in serious crime that needs to be looked after. Passports and certificates issued by the General Registry Office perhaps are a little different, being documents which are used in a wide range of circumstances, and it is really the question of their authenticity upon which people place so much reliance. These two types require extra protection as well.

That is not, however, the only change in Clause 5 because there is also now included an offence of making or possessing implements and materials used for the creation of that list of instruments to which I have been referring. Many of the items covered by this clause are, as I have just said, of particular public importance and the others have special reliance placed upon them. There is of course the question of special implements and materials being necessary therefore to be used in their manufacture. It seems to me that this type of material used for manufacture needs the same treatment as the currency notes, and that the possession of materials and implements for making them ought to be an offence. By penalising the possession of such implements and materials it is also possible to penalise the possession of incomplete forgeries which have not yet been finished which otherwise it might be difficult to catch.

I am sorry to speak at length on Clause 5 but I thought it necessary to deal with the differences between the Law Commission's Bill and this Bill in some detail. I do not think that the rest of this Part of the Bill will need very much explanation. The penalties under Clause 6 have been brought up-to-date. They are really the same as the Law Commission suggested but there is now a pattern introduced by the Criminal Law Act 1977 into which all the offences fall. In Clause 7 there are powers of search and forfeiture which are the same as before. Then we come on to the clauses which define the technical terms which go to make up the offence, some of which I have looked at already.

The point that I should like to raise in Clause 9 about falsity is that we have here a comprehensive list of the range of circumstances in which an instrument is said in law to be false. This substantially retains two things; first, the definitions in the 1913 Act and then also the common law. That makes it possible in Clause 13 to abolish the common law offence of forgery. So the whole subject will be dealt with in this Bill.

I come then to Part II which deals with counterfeiting and relates to the making, using and possessing of counterfeit notes coins or the implements used for them. Again, the same pattern as in Part I. The offence of making a counterfeit of a currency note or protected coin appears in Clause 14. The Law Commission recommended that it should be an offence to make a counterfeit note or coin with the intention that it should be used as genuine, and proposed a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment. That is the same as occurs in the first part of the Bill. There is no such intention in the present law: the offence is established without proof of more than the conscious act of the maker that he is making a coin resembling a current coin, so the mental element is not there at the moment. Then, as I said, bank notes used to be dealt with under the Forgery Act 1913, but there was an intention under the terms of the 1913 Act that could sometimes lead to difficulties which the prosecuting authorities had trouble in overcoming, so they had to fall back on minor charges. Now it is all being brought into line with a similar remedy. As I said, it is a two-tier offence: first, making the note or coin with the intent to pass it to be used as genuine. There is also the lesser offence which I have just mentioned. The penalties are accordingly greater for the first and less for the second. Clause 15 creates the offence of passing or rendering counterfeit notes or coins as genuine or delivering them to another person. That is the lower tier of the offence.

Control or custody of counterfeit notes or coins is covered by Clause 16, and subsection (3) deals with problems of incomplete counterfeits. Under the present law the offence of forgery or counterfeiting can be complete despite the fact that the note or coin is not yet finished or that the coin is not in a fit state to be uttered. It seemed, therefore, important that this should continue to be the case, so that it is possible to deal effectively with counterfeiting operations detected at a relatively early stage before the finished product is actullay produced and is ready to be passed into circulation. That is greatly assisted by the definition of the word "counterfeit" in Clause 27.

The "possession offence" under Clause 17 is essentially the same as in the Law Commission's Bill and the same as the one I was referring to in Clause 5 in relation to forgery. In contrast with the existing provisions of the 1913 and the 1936 Acts, which relate to specific tools and materials in some detail, this clause is widely drawn and covers anything which may be used to make a counterfeit, in recognition of the fact that many things which could have perfectly innocent uses can at the same time be used in the process of counterfeiting.

Clauses 18 and 19 cover lesser offences of reproducing British currency notes and making or selling imitation British coins. The Law Commission considered the need for these offences, and the provisions are still substantially the same as in their Bill. What it is essentially about is to prevent the reproduction of bank notes in advertisements and imitation coins used in sales promotion schemes. Both offences are punishable only by a fine.

The importation and exportation of counterfeits are covered in Clauses 20 and 21 and really come under the aegis of the Customs and Excise.

The penalties are set out towards the end of Part II and they follow the same pattern as before. Similarly, there are powers of search and forfeiture in the case of counterfeiting as in the case of forgery.

A clause (Clause 25) has been added, providing in common form a director's liability provision, relating only to the offences in Clause 18 and 19. Those offences are by their nature likely to be, or capable of being, committed by companies, and it seemed appropriate therefore that where an officer of a company has approved or connived at the issue of token money or has been negligent, he should also be liable to conviction.

I have already mentioned the definition of "counterfeit" in Clause 27. Again, that is basically the same as was given by the Law Commission, although—I believe on the advice of the Treasury—some technical amendments have been made to ensure that the Bill deals adequately with a certain method of making counterfeit notes known as the "slit note system"—which is not the same as the "split note system".

Then there are the usual miscellaneous clauses at the end, with a large repeal section and the extension to the various parts of the British Isles that I have already mentioned. I hope that your Lordships will therefore think there is not really a great difference from what the Law Commission has said but that where there have been changes there are good reasons for them and that the changes constitute an improvement. I am afraid it is necessary, in a technical Bill of this sort, to go into a little detail. I think I may have been too long but nevertheless I hope that your Lordships will give it a Second Reading; and I so move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a .—( Viscount Colville of Culross.)

6.15 p.m.

My Lords, I am sure that the House will be grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, for introducing this Bill and indeed for taking it under his highly competent wing. It is good to hear him in action again, if he does not mind my saying so. I am relieved that there was no element of reproach in his speech about the failure to take action sooner on the Law Commission report, which was received in the Home Office as long ago as 1973. It would perhaps have been a matter of some delicacy if he had made a complaint because of course the noble Viscount was at that time a distinguished Minister in the Home Office. But the major passage of time undoubtedly occurred in the years 1974 to 1979, and the explanation is partly that time is the least available of all parliamentary commodities. Also it does appear that the report itself did the round of the departments, and no doubt that took a little time as well.

With the fact that there is need for a specific, separate offence of forgery, I am fully in agreement with the noble Viscount and with what he has said. Forgery is not so frequent a crime as burglary, theft or robbery but forgeries do run into thousands each year as crimes. I have little doubt that there are far more forgeries now than there were in 1973. The noble Earl the Minister indicates dissent. I am not stating that as a known fact, but it should be interesting to know how things have gone. I should have expected more forgery offences, for the reason mentioned by the noble Viscount—namely, the greater proliferation of cheques, travellers' cheques, cheque cards and credit cards. If I am wrong, that is very gratifying. Certainly, since the passing of the Forgery Act in 1913 many forgery and forgery-type offences have been created in specialised contexts. The coming into use of motor vehicles called for a multiplicity of documents, and it seems that far and away the most commonly committed of forgery and forgery-type offences have been those resulting from the forging of motor vehicle licences.

The schedule to the Bill indicates that there is a good deal of consolidation in the Bill: of course we welcome that very much. It is perhaps sad that it has not been legislsted upon before. I remember that when I occupied the Woolsack my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner used to begin each Session of Parliament with a recitation, delivered in a prophet-like way, as to the matters which had been left undone which ought to have been done; and there was always a list of uncompleted and unfulfilled reports from the Law Commission. But a good deal has been done. Parliament's record has been pretty good in this field, and it is right that should be so. But the process has been greatly assisted by the willingness of individual Members in each of the two Houses—and here, notably, today by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, in undertaking the responsibility, in view of the difficulty of slotting in. "Get slotted" used to be the great demand of Ministers going to the Legislation Committee, by the supporters of particular measures.

The noble Viscount, Lord Colville, gave a very lucid explanation of the Bill itself and I do not quarrel with the extent, broadly speaking, to which it departs from the Law Commission's Bill. So far as the departures are merely departures of drafting, the drafting in the Bill as it is before the House seems to be an improvement. But he has drawn attention to the changes effected in Clause 5 of the Bill. Indeed, in this and other respects, the Bill shows the signs I have indicated, that the draft from the Law Commission went around the departments and there was a good deal of tacking, nibbling and adding, here and there; no doubt, to some extent, to the dismay of the draftsman.

But, in relation to Clause 14(2), which provides that,
"It is an offence for a person to make a counterfeit of a currency note or a protected coin without lawful authority or excuse",
I have wondered what is the reason for introducing that as a new offence. It did not exist in the Law Commission's proposals. Another matter which is of interest to me is the question where do forged paintings stand under the terms of the Bill? In the report of the Law Commission, contained in the explanatory notes to Clause 2 are the words:
"An instrument in writing, whether of a formal or informal character, embraces all those documents the contents of which are to be acted upon. It excludes such things as paintings whether signed or not".
I am not clear from the terms of this Bill whether it is intended to exclude forged paintings, which is a branch of forgery which seems to have flourished in recent years. No doubt the noble Earl will be able to tell us, if not now then at a later stage, the answer to that.

As I have said, I agree that the changes in the documents that are now included in Clause 5(5) paragraphs (g) to (k)—cheques, travellers' cheques, cheque cards and credit cards—are justified. I am intrigued about one thing. There is included in paragraph (l) of the list,
"certified copies relating to an entry in a register of births, adoptions, marriages or deaths",
but I see no reference to forged divorce documents, either a decree nisi or a decree absolute. Does it mean that the Divorce Registry nodded when this report of the Law Commission was circulating, or was it thought that in these days a mere forged decree nisi or decree absolute is of no real importance?

6.24 p.m.

My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will be grateful to my noble friend Lord Colville for introducing his Bill, and also for explaining its purpose and effects. The Government welcome the Bill as a useful piece of law reform. As my noble friend has explained, it is based to a large extent on the recommendations of the Law Commission, which are contained in their report on forgery and counterfeit currency. The Government are in broad agreement with the recommendations contained in that report, and are therefore pleased to lend their support to the proposals in this Bill.

I am glad that, as between my noble friend and the noble and learned Lord, there was little, if any, accusation of delay in bringing forward the Bill. That is as it should be, as we all know the constraints on parliamentary time. If I made a face as to the noble and learned Lord's estimates of the number of offences under the various interrelating Acts, it was a personal expression and not one which was based on statistics. If interesting statistics emerge between now and any future stage of the Bill I shall gladly pass them on to the noble and learned Lord.

I should like also to add my tribute and the Government's appreciation to the work of the Law Commission. We all know that they have a valuable role to play in their review of the criminal law, and the Government consider themselves fortunate to have such an eminent and experienced body to advise them on such matters.

I do not intend to comment in detail on many of the provisions of the Bill. My noble friend has given us an explanation of most of them, and I have indicated the Government's general welcome. But I should like to concentrate on just one or two points which have already been commented on by both noble Lords who have spoken. The first of these is Clause 5, which creates offences of possessing certain false instruments and the implements for making them. The Bill departs from the Law Commission's recommendations, and my noble friend has given his reasons for extending the scope of the clause, which the Government accept. One could, I suppose, argue that a more satisfactory approach might have been one which avoided the need for a list of instruments, and instead created a general offence of possessing any false instrument. But when one examines this proposition more closely, it soon becomes apparent that this would not provide a satisfactory solution.

The Law Commission argued that the possession offence should be what is now described as a two-tier offence; that is, that a distinction should be made between the person who possesses a false instrument with the intention of using it to induce someone else to do some act to his or another's prejudice, and the person who merely possesses a false instrument without lawful authority or excuse. In the latter case, although the person who possesses the false instrument may intend no harm, there is always a danger that the instrument will fall into the hands of someone who will use it to somebody else's prejudice. We need, therefore, to guard against this kind of situation, and for this reason I believe that the two-tier approach is right.

If, however, there were to be a general offence of possessing a false instrument, it is clear that this approach would have unwarranted consequences. It would mean, for example, that a mother who finds her son going off to school with a forged letter from her in his pocket, excusing his absence on the previous day, would, if she kept the letter instead of destroying it, be guilty of an offence. Clearly, this would be absurd and it would, therefore, be necessary to distinguish between those false instruments which it would be an offence to possess either with full intent or without lawful authority or excuse, and those which it would be an offence to possess only with full intent. The result, in my view, would be the worst of both worlds—an offence which is actually wider than necessary and a list.

I believe that the Law Commission and my noble friend are right to adopt the approach which they do. I also believe that my noble friend is right to extend the range of items covered by the clause. I know that the police will welcome the extension of the clause to cover such things as cheques, cheque cards, credit cards and travellers' cheques. They have expressed concern about the increasing use of instruments of this sort in serious crime, and are doubtful of their ability to act in certain circumstances in the absence of an offence of possessing certain false instruments. Clearly there is room for debate as to what should be the range of restricted items, including divorce papers. It is always difficult to know where to draw a line, but, as things are, I should have thought that my noble friend had got it about right. I should be reluctant, I think, to see any substantial widening of the scope of this clause, although, particularly if the noble and learned Lord wishes it, we can come back to the matter in Committee.

I should like to say something about Clause 8 and, in particular, about the definition which it contains of one of the central concepts of this part of the Bill; namely, the concept of an instrument. There is difficulty in capturing precisely the notion of the two types of message identified by the Law Commission which a document, to be covered by the law on forgery, should convey. The Law Commission pointed out that documents usually contain messages of two distinct kinds; that is, a message about the document itself, such as the information that it is a cheque, and a message to the effect that the document is to be accepted and acted upon, such as the message that a banker is to pay a specified sum. They argued that the distinguishing feature of those items which should be covered by the law on forgery is the presence of the second type of message. This, I am sure, is right, but the difficulty lies in finding a satisfactory way of capturing this notion.

Like the Law Commission, the Government have given careful thought to this problem and have concluded that the best approach is indeed the one adopted by the Bill: that is, to rely upon the notion of an instrument, coupled with the requirement in the offence provisions that it be used to induce someone to act upon it.

Turning to Part II of the Bill, my noble friend explained that he considered it necessary to amend the Commission's proposals as they related to the offence of making and using counterfeits so as to create two-tier offences requiring either the full intent recommended by the Law Commission or absence of lawful authority or excuse. He referred to possible difficulties in proving the full mental element and thus securing convictions in appropriate cases, and I can confirm that those involved in prosecuting offences of this nature have, on occasions, experienced just such difficulties.

Clearly, it would not be justifiable to create an absolute offence with any substantial penalty, nor would it be right to require less than the full intent proposed by the Law Commission in any offence rendering a person liable to 10 years' imprisonment. But the Government agree in effect that it is both appropriate and justifiable to create a lesser offence, carrying a maximum penalty of only two years' imprisonment, which relies upon absence of lawful authority or excuse. We are therefore content with the changes which he has made to the Law Commission's proposals in this part of the Bill. The rest of the Bill is, as my noble friend has indicated, very much the same as the draft prepared by the Law Commission and calls for no special comment from the Government at this stage. We are broadly content with what is proposed.

The noble and learned Lord raised the matter of Clause 14(2). This is—I was going to say pontificated upon but that is rather offensive—discussed in paragraph 88 of the Law Commission's report, if my memory serves me right. If it does not, I apologise. We can return to the matter later. In any event, I am grateful to my noble friend for introducing this helpful Bill. Mercifully, it raises no party political issues and in our view is a useful contribution to law reform. I hope therefore that the House will agree to give it a Second Reading.

6.34 p.m.

My Lords, the welcome that has just come from my noble friend is not wholly unexpected. None the less, it is agreeable. As for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, it is particularly comforting to know that he has not been able to find any serious defect in the Bill. Perhaps I could deal very quickly with his three points.

First, on the question whether the Family Division nodded when the departments were being asked about the provisions, I do not think so. I can see no particular reason why a decree nisi or a decree absolute should be the sort of document which is necessary, as it were, for a possession offence, which would mean that it would be in Clause 5. If you had a false one and used it with the necessary intent, you could still be guilty of an offence under Clause 1—also if you had a copy under Clauses 3 or 4. So the mere fact that it is not mentioned in Clause 5 only differentiates it to this extent: that the simple possession of it is not something which creates an offence. In other words, it is not the sort of document which is so much relied upon by people, as are the others listed, that it has been singled out. But it would be covered by the rest of the Bill, and I do not think that there is any problem over it.

Paintings are—contrary, as I understand it, to what the Law Commission recommended—specifically left out by virtue of the definition of "instrument" in Clause 8. Case law on this matter is in conflict. There is an old case, called Closs, where the courts held that the signature on a document, combined, turning it into a false painting was indeed a forgery. In 1971, however, Essex quarter sessions had in front of them a case, called Douce, where the learned deputy recorder held that it was not a forgery. I think it is the latter, although the person concerned was acquitted on all counts.

In the commentary on that case I see that in Scotland, in common law, the fabrication of a picture with a false signature on it is not forgery. It may very well be that the reason for this is in order to have conformity between the law in the two countries. If, however, the noble and learned Lord wishes to raise this point again we can of course consider it. I understand his point. I should have thought that, as opposed to the mere forgery and having it with the necessary criminal intent, it would not be at all difficult in the circumstances where it was sold to find that some other sort of criminal offence had been committed. It may well be that in the circumstances that is good enough.

As for Clause 14(2), the noble and learned Lord must remember that here we are marrying together the two old codes for coins and for bank notes. There was always an absolute offence for coins but not for bank notes. What has now been provided in Clause 14(2) is a second-tier offence where you cannot prove the full mens rea that is necessary under Clause 14(1). Nevertheless, the circumstances are thoroughly fishy and it is quite easy to prove the necessary ingredients of the offence under Clause 14(2). As the Bill is pulling together coins and bank notes it is of course necessary to have a second offence which covers both of them. My noble friend Lord Mansfield also commented upon this.

I hope that that is a satisfactory solution. If I have got it wrong, I shall make certain that I tell the noble and learned Lord before the next stage. That is a stage to which I much look forward. In the meanwhile, I hope your Lordships will this evening give the Bill a Second Reading.

On Question, Bill read 2 a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.