§ [No. 41]
Clause 36, page 27, line 39, at end insert—
( ) In any of the cases specified in Part I of Schedule 9 to this Act, a court (other than a magistrates' court) which makes such an order as is there mentioned may, if it thinks that the period for which the person subject to the order is liable apart from this subsection to be committed to prison for default under the order is insufficient, specify a longer period for that purpose, but not exceeding twelve months; and then, in the case of default—
( ) Where a magistrates' court has power to commit a person to prison for default in paying a sum due under an order enforceable as mentioned in this section, the court shall not exercise the power unless it is specified
that all other methods of enforcing payment have been tried or considered and either have proved unsuccessful are are likely to do so.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 41. This Amendment deals with the committal to prison of persons convicted of criminal offences who fail to pay costs or compensation awarded against them. The new subsection (7) of Clause 36 enables courts other than a magistrates' court—that is, quarter sessions, assizes, and so on—which make an order for the payment of costs or compensation to fix periods of imprisonment in default of payment longer than the period for which the defaulter could be committed to prison by the magistrates' court which is responsible for enforcing payment of the costs or compensation, but not exceeding twelve months. The new subsection (7) would permit the Central Criminal Court to fix a term of imprisonment in default of up to twelve months, which is the same as the maximum term which, under Section 14(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1948, a court of assize or quarter sessions may fix in default of payment of a fine.
The new subsection also applies to these terms of imprisonment fixed by courts other than magistrates' courts the provisions of Schedule 3 to the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952, under which the period of imprisonment is proportionately reduced when a part payment of the debt is made. The new subsection (8) prevents the magistrates' court from committing to prison a person who has failed to pay costs or compensation unless it is satisfied that all other methods of enforcement—for example, attachment of earnings—have proved unsuccessful or are likely to do so. This provision is on similar lines to Section 44(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 1967, which deals with committal in default of payment of fines. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, this again is a matter that should just be mentioned, because, as I understand it, the Bill will now allow magistrates, really acting in this case as agents for a higher court, to send people to prison for more than the normal 1028 six months' maximum. They will be able to enforce a term for up to twelve months, and it is slightly remarkable, in that it is very rare for them to be allowed to send anybody to prison for twelve months. But the reason is perfectly clear, and I welcome the Amendment.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.