Oral Answers to Questions — India – in the House of Commons on 20th April 1944.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the large and increasing extent of pilfering and looting at the ports; and will he issue a circular to magistrates drawing attention to these facts and the penalties that may be imposed.
Yes, Sir. I am aware that the stealing of goods at the ports has increased since the outbreak of war and, as I have stated in reply to previous Questions in the House, such offences must be regarded, particularly in war time, as extremely serious and deserving of severe punishment. I sent a letter in 1941 to Magistrates' Courts having jurisdiction in dock areas, drawing their attention to the gravity of such offences in time of war. I have no reason to believe that Magistrates have not these considerations in mind when deciding the appropriate penalty in particular cases, but no doubt my hon. Friend's Question will have served a useful purpose in again drawing attention to the importance of this problem.
In view of the well known increase in looting and pilfering, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it would be right to send another circular and to include also black market offences?
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider using not the word "pilfering" but the more usual word "thieving"?