asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the inadequacy of the deterrent effects of the present scales of penalties, as exemplified by the great increase in war-time trading and currency offences, it is proposed to increase the powers of the courts, particularly by authorising imprisonment for such offences?
It would appear from the inquiries I have made that any increase in the number of trading offences is to be attributed to the widening of the area of possible offences as new classes of food are brought under control. The courts already have powers under emergency legislation to impose substantial penalties, including imprisonment, for these offences, and I have no reason to think that these powers are insufficient for their purpose.
I think the powers are adequate. The maximum penalties under the Defence Regulation are on summary conviction three months and/or £100 or three times the value of the goods, which- ever is the greater. They can be proceeded against on indictment, in which case the maximum penalties are two years and/or £500 or three times the value of the goods, whichever is the greater. These are pretty stiff penalties.