HC Deb 12 April 1887 vol 313 cc704-5
MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, What is the practice of the Excise authorities with respect to prosecutions by that Department of persons selling exciseable liquors on other than licensed premises, and the acceptance of what are called "compromise fines" for such offences; whether, in the month of February last, several licensed grocers in Dundee and Broughty Ferry became liable to prosecution for such offences, and were compromised with privately, without being prosecuted, while another grocer who committed a similar offence was prosecuted; whether he is prepared to give the names of the parties compromised with, to state the several amounts of their "compromise fines," and explain at whose instance the Excise authorities were induced to forego these prosecutions, and give any further particulars relating to these cases; and, whether the practice of settling these offences secretly, by the acceptance of so-called "compromise fines," is to be continued?

THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

The Board of Inland Revenue are empowered by law to accept a "compromise fine" where they think proper, in mitigation of any penalty incurred by the sale of exciseable liquors on other than licensed premises, or by any other offence against the Excise Laws. Four retailers of spirits (grocers) in Dundee and Broughty Ferry were reported, in the beginning of the year, for the offence of selling exciseable liquors on unlicensed premises. In three cases compromise fines were accepted, and the fourth was referred to the magistrates for their decision. It is not desirable that the names of the parties compromised with, and the amount of their compromise fines, should be given. In the opinion of the Inland Revenue, the circumstances of each of the above cases warranted them in accepting compromise fines, and they were guided in their decisions solely by the merits of each case. Applications were received from each of the offenders in question, asking that compromise fines might be accepted. No such application was received in the fourth case. It is not desirable to withdraw from the Board of Inland Revenue the power granted to them by statute of accepting compromise fines in certain cases.