§ MR. COWAN
said, he wished to ask the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate if he had any reason to believe that the Act for the Better Regulation of Publichouses in Scotland, passed in 1853, had been fairly put in operation within the Royalty and under the jurisdiction of the Magistrates of the City of Edinburgh; if he had received any complaints that, beyond those bounds, and in the Sheriffs Courts and Justice of Peace Courts, this law was virtually a dead letter; and whether, in this case, it was his intention to apply a remedy, or to introduce any legislative measure in order to secure a more fair and uniform administration of the Statute referred to?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, the question was so worded as scarcely to admit of a categorical answer, but he had no reason to think the Act was not fairly put in operation within the Royalty of the City of Edinburgh. No doubt there had been complaints that beyond the Royalty there had been no prosecutions under the Act; but the fact was that neither the sheriffs nor the justices could put the Act in force. It was an Act under which private informers alone were entitled to prosecute; and if the Procurators Fiscal prosecuted, they did so as private informers and at their own expense. There was no obligation upon them to initiate proceedings. With regard to the last part of the question—namely, whether he proposed to introduce a legislative measure on the subject, he had to state that this Act stood in exactly the same position as other Statutes now in operation in Scotland, and with regard to which it was a matter for serious consideration whether any alteration should be made in them or not.