Treason Act 1945
|Long title||An Act to assimilate the procedure in all cases of treason and misprision of treason to the procedure in cases of murder.|
|Chapter||8 & 9 Geo.6 c.44|
|Territorial extent||United Kingdom|
|Royal Assent||15 June 1945|
It was introduced into the House of Lords as a purely procedural statute, whose sole purpose was to abolish the old and highly technical procedure in cases of treason, and assimilate it to the procedure on trials for murder:
|“||Its provisions are absolutely confined to matters of procedure, and it does not make any change whatsoever in the law as to what constitutes treason.||”|
It also abolished the rule that treason trials in Scotland had to be conducted according to the rules of English criminal law.
Section 1 of the Act applied the Treason Act 1800 to all cases of treason and misprision of treason, subject to five separate repeals of words, and to a saving clause in section 2(2):
|“||The Treason Act, 1800 (which assimilates the procedure in certain cases of treason and misprision of treason to the procedure in cases of murder) shall apply in all cases of treason and misprision of treason whether alleged to have been committed before or after the passing of this Act.||”|
Section 2(1) of the Act effected consequential repeals:
|“||The enactments set out in the Schedule to this Act are hereby repealed in so far as they extend to matters of procedure in cases of treason or misprision of treason, that is to say, to the extent specified in the third column of that Schedule.||”|
The application of the Treason Act 1800 was subject to a saving clause in section 2(2):
|“||For the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that nothing in the Treason Act, 1800, shall be deemed to have repealed any of the provisions of the Treason Act, 1695, or of the Treason Act, 1708, except the provisions of those Acts specified in the third column of the Schedule to this Act||”|
Section 3(1) of the Act provided that it may be cited as the Treason Act, 1945.
Section 3(3) of the Act provided that, for the purposes of section 6 of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, the Act was to be deemed to be an Act passed before the appointed day.
Use of the Act
The procedure established by this Act was used in four trials: those of William Joyce, John Amery, Thomas Haller Cooper and Walter Purdy. J. W. Hall said that if the statutory requirement for corroboration had not been repealed by this Act, William Joyce could not have been convicted on the basis of the evidence offered at his trial. One witness, Detective Inspector Hunt, connected him with the broadcasts during the period before the expiration of the passport (though other witnesses might have come forward).
Repeal and replacement
The schedule to this Act was repealed on 18 December 1953 by section 1 of, and the first schedule to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1953, except in so far as it related to the Treason Act 1695 and the Treason Act 1708. Those two entries could not be repealed because they were referred to in section 2(2). The other entries were spent because their sole effect was to repeal other enactments.
The Act was repealed for Northern Ireland by section 15(2) of, and Part 2 of Schedule 2 to, Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967, and for Scotland by section 83(3) of, and Schedule 8 to, the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980.
Section 1 of this Act, and the Treason Act 1800, have been replaced for England and Wales by section 12(6) of the Criminal Law Act 1967 and for Northern Ireland by section 14(7) of the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967. They were replaced for Scotland by section 39 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 (also repealed).
- Hansard (House of Lords), 17 May 1945, vol. 136 col. 227 (first reading)
- Hansard (House of Lords), 30 May 1945, vol. 136, col. 265 - 276 (second reading)
- Hansard (House of Commons), 31 May 1945, vol. 411, col. 380 - 381 (first reading)
- Hansard (House of Commons), 11 June 1945, vol. 411, col. 1393 - 1398 (second reading)
- Hansard (House of Commons), 12 June 1945, vol. 411, col. 1605 - 1606 (committee and third reading)
- Hansard (House of Lords), 13 June 1945, vol. 136, col.567
- Hansard (House of Commons), 15 June 1945, vol. 411, col. 1887 - 1904 (royal assent)
- The Act is presumed to extend to the United Kingdom because the contrary is not specified
- Hansard (H.L.) 30 May 1945, vol. 136, col. 265
- Repealing section 4 of the Treason Act 1708.
- Rebecca West, The Meaning of Treason, Amazon Book review
- Famous Trials, Penguin
- The Interpretation Act 1889, section 11(1)
- According to the Chronological Table of the Statutes
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