Clause 7. — (Short title, construction and extent.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 19th November 1931.

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Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

I beg to move, in page 4, line 9, at the end, to add the words: Provided that the expiry of this Act shall not affect the previous operation thereof or of any order made thereunder, or any obligation or liability previously incurred under this Act or any such Order in respect of any duty of Customs, penalty, forfeiture, or punishment, or the taking of any steps, or the institution or carrying on of any proceedings to determine the amount of any such duty or enforce any such obligation or liability. We desire to add these words at the end of the Clause because, if we left the Bill as originally drafted, it would mean that all unpaid duties on the expiration of the Act would remain irrecoverable. It would have remained open to any importer to leave over the payment of duties until the expiration of the Act, and thus it would have been impossible to recover the unpaid duties. That would have been grossly unfair to those who had met their obligations during the six months. There would, too, have been no possibility of having recourse to a referee at the expiration of the six months, and I am not at all sure that, if proceedings were going on when the clock struck at the end of six months, they would be in order. I regret that this was not noticed at the time, and that it should be necessary at this stage to move the Amendment, but I would point out that there is provision of this kind in other temporary Acts, as, for instance, in the Foodstuffs (Prevention of Exploitation) Act of this Session. It also appears in one other of the emergency Acts, and the Committee will realise that it is a reasonable provision.