I propose the following amendment:
To delete the section and insert a new section as follows:—
"If any person contravenes the provisions of this Act he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act and shall be liable on conviction—
(a) in the case of a first offence to a fine not exceeding one pound;
(b) in the case of a second offence to a fine not exceeding five pounds, and
(c) in the case of a third or subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month."
As a result of the discussion on the last occasion, at the suggestion of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, an amendment that was down in my name was put forward to fill what might have been considered an omission—that is to say, to provide a penalty clause. Sub-section (2) of Section 5 was not dealt with and was allowed to pass, but it will be essential on Report Stage to move to delete that sub-section. Perhaps I should not say "essential" but rather "desirable." The amendment which is on the Order Paper in my name is to delete Section 7 and insert a new section which embodies a section of the existing Act plus a proposal in the Bill which came up from the Special Committee. I gather that the only difference between this amendment and that which is pretty generally accepted is, that in my amendment and in that which came up from the Committee there was provision in the case of a third, or subsequent, offence for a fine not exceeding £50, or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one month. It must be remembered that the alternative is at the discretion of the magistrate and it is a maximum of one month. It is important to remember that it is only applicable in the case of an offender who has persistently and deliberately broken the law and it cannot apply until after two committals, and then as a maximum.
Therefore, I think the case for this alternative of a term of imprisonment is easily proved. The fine of £50 is agreed upon as a maximum penalty, commensurate with a third offence, but it is quite easily conceivable that a £50 fine would be profitably borne rather than obey the law, and if such appears to the magistrate to be the state of mind of the defendant in such a case, I desire, and the Committee agreed, that the magistrate should have liberty to impose a maximum term of one month's imprisonment if the offence seemed to him to warrant it. There is not much in the point that is referred to in sub-section (2) of Deputy Doyle's amendment. So far as the repeal of Section 4 of the Act of 1925 is concerned, it will make no difference whether it is left in or out. Perhaps from my point of view it might be better repealed, so that I have no objection to inserting that if Deputy Doyle would like to press it. But I do urge upon the Dáil the necessity for including an alternative of imprisonment, and that where there has been a persistent and wilful violation of the law the magistrate should have power to inflict this maximum penalty.